Stanton voters may get to decide at the ballot box in 2024 whether future candidates for mayor should face term limits.
The City Council has voted 3-2 to direct staff to research creating mayoral term limits which are already imposed on other council members who are limited to serving two terms of four years. Upon staff’s follow-up report, mayoral term limits could be a question that goes before the voters.
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The majority of the council expressed the importance of uniformity in terms for the council members and the mayor. Dissenters Mayor David Shawver and Mayor Pro Tem Hong Alyce Van said they believed in a small town like Stanton, with an estimated population of 37,970, the mayor should not be limited by terms they serve.
Some residents interviewed recently said that while the current mayor is doing a good job, future mayoral term limits should be the same as those of other council members.
Councilmember Gary Taylor requested the discussion to implement mayoral term limits at a March council meeting, saying he would like to bring the position in line with the current term limits of other council members.
Term limits would restrict the mayor to a specific number of terms — but exactly how many was not specified. The Stanton mayor can currently serve unlimited terms of four years.
In 2022, Shawver ran unopposed for a second mayoral term. He has served on the council since 1988. Shawver advocated that Stanton’s intimate community needs a familiar face as its mayor.
“I’ve been at this for 35 years and this will be my last hurrah because I am getting too old for this,” Shawver said. “I totally disagree with term limits especially in small communities like ours. I think it’s important that the people have an opportunity to have people that they are comfortable with, that they are doing the job to represent them, no matter how long it is.”
Stanton residents voted in 2016 to impose term limits for city council members with 75.2% in favor, establishing a limit of two terms of four years each. The terms do not have to be served consecutively.
Whether the mayor should also face the same term limits was not on the ballot at the time.
In 2017, the city went to a by-district election system where it installed four districts — one for each council member — with the mayor elected at large. Up until then, the council annually appointed a mayor and a mayor pro tem. In 2018, Shawver was the first mayor to be elected by Stanton residents, said Patricia Vazquez, the city clerk.
“I think that we should all be up there, we should all run every four years, and if the community is happy with us, so be it,” said Shawver.
Taylor argued the importance of residents deciding if all elected city officials’ terms should mirror one another.
“I’m just offering this that we need to make all the positions within the city aligned,” Taylor said. “It won’t affect the incumbent or anything like that. At this point, it doesn’t go backwards but it would be put on the ballot for the residents to approve in November of 2024.”
John Warren, a Stanton resident and creative lead for a marketing firm, said the city needs to rectify the lack of term limits for the mayor.
“The discussion of potential Stanton mayoral term limits centers around correcting a technicality,” Warren said in an interview. “I do not see this stance as (an action) taken against the existing mayor (rather) than correcting a technicality for future mayors. The benefits of term limits in any city are to bring new voices to the table at the expense of institutional knowledge. Regarding Mayor Shawver, he has continued to be a passionate advocate for the city of Stanton in the many years he has served.”
In some other cities in Orange County, such as Santa Ana and Irvine, mayors elected at large already face term limits. The date for when Stanton staff will finish its research and when the council will consider action on mayoral term limits is uncertain.
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