Stanton residents will get to decide next year if they want to limit how long a mayor can serve in office.

Residents are expected to vote in November 2024 about whether they should limit the mayor to a lifetime limit of two, four-year terms.

Stanton City Council members voted 4-1 last month to place the ballot measure before the voters in next year’s general election. 

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Currently, the mayor serves four-year terms without any limit. 

City Council members supporting the action argued it would make the mayor’s terms consistent with their own.

Term limits were imposed on city council members in 2016

Mayor David Shawver voted against the proposal, citing the importance of continuity within the mayor’s position.

“If the majority of the public do not want to have a representative either in the district or citywide, then they simply vote them out or they vote for the new person,” Shawver said at the Sept. 26 meeting. “It’s the fair way to do it to give everybody in the community an opportunity to vote for who they want rather than have a clock determine when people are to be removed from office.” 

The council also decided to place separate term limits on the mayor and the council members. This means that an individual can serve up to two terms as mayor and up to two terms as a council member for a total of 16 years of elected service between both offices. 

In August, the council directed staff to research a three-term limit on the mayor and council members. But the council voted 3-2 on Sept. 26 to keep council members’ term limits at two terms. 

Councilmembers Hong Alyce Van, Gary Taylor and Donald Torres said it would be better to streamline the voting process and bring only one ballot measure to voters. 

Van advocated for maintaining a two-term limit for council members because having multiple ballot measures could confuse voters.

“If we have two ballot measures it not only costs more, but it also can be contradictory,” Van said at the meeting. “As a resident, when you’re trying to vote on these things, I think we might have some unintended consequences depending on how people may interpret what the ballot measure is asking.”

Among other Orange County cities, Santa Ana also has had mayoral term limitations in place since 2012. 

In 2014, Irvine and Lake Forest passed lifetime term limits of various degrees on their mayor and council members.

The mayoral term limit measure will appear on the November 2024 ballot, which is predicted to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

Shawver argued that the measure should instead appear on the March 2024 ballot even though that would have cost $10,000 more. He said that if it came up for a vote in March then it would be the only item on the ballot and more people would pay attention to it.

“I think it’s going to get just lost in the shuffle if we put it in the presidential election,” Shawver said. “There’s going to be so many people running, there’s going to be so many ballot measures, and therefore, something of this importance needs to be on the March 5 ballot. $10,000 is not that much money compared to how important this ballot measure is.”

The council majority disagreed, instead opting for the cheaper option in November 2024.

“(In) the presidential election in 2020 (there was a) close to 80% turnout, so whether or not people will even look at it depends on how many people decide to vote,” Van said. “If you look at the last election in November of 2022 — which is not a presidential election but it is a general election — we only had 40% turnout, so the turnout plays a big role on how many people even consider this ballot measure.”


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