BY LIONEL EMDE
In the August 26 Pacifica Tribune, a story buried on page 2 referred to a legal advertisement of potentially great local significance: "Notice is hereby given...of...intention to circulate the petition within the City of Pacifica for the purpose of amending the Pacifica Municipal Code in order to limit the number of terms which an individual may serve as Pacifica City Councilmember."
Part of the language in this petition is as follows: "Term limits are good enough for the President of the United States, for Governors, for (CA) Assembly Members and Senators. ... Term Limits increase competition, encouraging new challengers with new ideas. By contrast, unlimited terms promulgate a seniority system—a haven where mediocre politicians thrive."
The particular limits of running for election to the Pacifica council proposed in the measure are: "...no person who has served two terms of office as a Pacifica City Councilmember shall be eligible to run for election as a Pacifica City Councilmember. If for any reason a person serves a partial term as a Pacifica City Councilmember in excess of two years, that partial term shall be considered a full term for purposes of this term limit provision." The measure goes on to state that any previous terms served would not count toward the limit. Only those after the effective date of the measure would count.
The signatories to the proposed measure are Bernie Sifry, a veteran attendee at council meetings, and Deborah Nagle-Burks, a former member of the West Sharp Park community planning group that ended in controversy.
The potential of this measure becoming a referendum on the performance of the council in recent years is possible, given the recent crushing defeat of the proposed sales tax increase. Pacifica council members enjoy one of the best salary and benefit packages in San Mateo County, despite the recent self-denial of increased benefits that were to take effect this year. Council members take home $700 per month and are allowed $920 per month in health benefits that, if not used for insurance, can be paid to the council member as tax-free cash. It is unknown whether council members have taken advantage of this option.
The measure, if it qualifies with enough signatures, will appear on the November ballot.