LWV League of Women Voters of California
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Los Angeles County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure HH
Change system of electing Councilmembers by district; election of Mayor; term limits
City of Santa Monica

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

9,732 / 35.86% Yes votes ...... 17,410 / 64.14% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City Charter and Municipal Code be amended to change the system of electing City Council members by creating City Council districts, imposing term limits for Council members, and establishing a municipal primary election with runoffs in the fall, to add to the seven-member Council a mayor, who would be elected City-wide and would serve as the Council's non-voting chairperson, and to change the process for Council actions by giving the mayor the power to veto Council actions, including emergency actions, which veto could be nullified if a specified number of Council members vote to override it?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
The City Charter and the Municipal Code would be amended to create: A new position of elected mayor, directly elected city wide. The mayor's powers and limitations would be amended, including, but not limited to, the addition of veto power, and limitations on the situations in which the Mayor is allowed to vote; Term limits for the Councilmembers and for the Mayor of no more than two consecutive four year terms for the same office; Neighborhood district elections for City Councilmembers, replacing the current 'at-large' elections; Seven newly created and defined Districts, and the procedure to redefine them in the future; The requirement of a majority vote (greater than 50%) for City Councilmembers and the Mayor, and the concomitant requirement for primary elections in Spring and runoff elections in November when necessary; Redefinition of the residency requirements for the Mayor and Councilmembers.

A NO vote of this measure means:
The City Charter and Municipal Code will not be amended, and their provisions will continue unaltered.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
This measure would significantly change City Charter provisions governing City Council elections, the powers of the Mayor, and the process for adopting municipal legislation, and would also amend the Municipal Code.

The measure would create a new position of elected mayor, elected city-wide. The mayor would preside over and participate in Council meetings but would usually not vote. The mayor would vote only in case of a tie or if the vote concerned removal of the City Manager or City Attorney.

The Mayor's most significant power would be the power to veto ordinances adopted by the Council. The Mayor's other powers and duties would include serving as the Council's liaison with the City Manager, representing the City in intergovernmental matters, supervising the City's intergovernmental functions, and appointing and removing the Mayor Pro Tempore. If the office of Mayor were vacated, the Council would be required to call an election within ninety days. If no candidate received more than 50% of the votes, there would be a runoff between the two candidates receiving the most votes.

The measure would significantly change the process for adopting ordinances. Every newly adopted ordinance would be presented to the Mayor for approval. The Mayor could veto the ordinance by providing a written statement of objections. Ordinances not approved or vetoed within ten days would then take effect. After the mayor vetoed an ordinance, the clerk would present it at the next Council meeting with the Mayor's objections. The Council could pass an ordinance over a veto within 30 days. However, if the ordinance was adopted by four votes, five votes would be necessary to override the veto. If five votes were required to pass the ordinance, the same number of votes would be sufficient to override. At present, regular ordinances go to the Council twice, require four votes at both of the Council meetings, and take effect thirty days after the second vote. However, at present, ordinances designated as ,emergency ordinances' require five votes, need only go to Council once, and become effective immediately upon adoption. The veto and override process in the proposed measure could thus lengthen the time necessary to adopt regular ordinances and significantly lengthen the time necessary to adopt emergency ordinances.

The process for electing Council members would also be significantly changed. Council members would be elected from districts and would be subject to term limits. There would be a primary held on the date of the state primary. If no Council candidate received a majority of votes in a district, there would be a November runoff for the two candidates receiving the most votes.

Council district boundaries are specified by the measure and denominated as: City Center-North of Wilshire, North of Montana, Wilshire Corridor, Mid-City Area, Ocean Park, Pico Neighborhood, and Sunset Park. The measure includes a process for redrawing boundaries following each census.

  Multilingual Services

Information on this ballot measure is available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese at 310/458-8211.
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Arguments For Measure HH Arguments Against Measure HH
Measure HH will create a system government that truly represents all residents by mandating term limits so that entrenched politicians are regularly replaced, ensuring that each of Santa Monica's seven districts elects a councilmember who is directly accountable to those residents, and allowing voters, not Councilmembers, to elect the mayor.

Cooperation among Councilmembers representing different districts can be a very healthy way to hammer out City Policy. It is certainly superior to a system where Councilmembers' personal preferences or loyalty to a slate agenda form the basis for City decision making.

Measure HH will put an end to a City Council beholden only to those with the money to finance costly City-wide elections.

Most U.S. communities have some form of district-representative government. Cities both larger and smaller, as well as more conservative and more liberal than Santa Monica have systems similar to VERITAS.

Under Santa Monica's present system, only candidates who can amass over $100,000 war chests to wage a citywide campaign can be elected. The VERITAS system created by Measure HH would give independent grassroots candidates a chance to represent their neighbors.

This measure will empower you and your neighbors to control intrusive development, prevent or reverse harebrained traffic schemes, seek solutions to street violence and transient problems, and insist on your fair share of city services.

One Councilmember who understands quality of life issues in your neighborhood is far preferable to seven who do not.

Other comparable cities with similar Mayors have not seen the rise of 'bossism' under the kind of system that Measure HH would provide. A directly elected Mayor who will have no Executive power (that is reserved for the City Manager), no patronage and virtually no staff will have difficulty wielding even the modest power provided.

Official ballot arguments in support of Measure HH are signed by:

  • Robert Holbrook, Santa Monica City Council Member
  • Paul DeSantis, Attorney/Affordable Housing Advocate
  • Irene B. Zivi, Child Care Advocate
  • Pierce M. Watson, Santa Monica College Advisory Board
  • Amulfo G. Diaz, Pico Neighborhood Resident/Former Recreation and Parks Commissioner

Measure HH would reduce your voice in local government. It would limit your vote to only one council seat and relieve six councilmembers from having to listen to you or your neighborhood. Measure HH would take six of your votes away. This is why only 7% of California cities have this style of government.

Currently residents have seven different council members they can approach on each issue. This increases the likelihood you will find one or more councilmembers who share your perspective.

Measure HH would radically shift power by concentrating control into a mayoral who would unilaterally wield unprecedented legislative and executive power to control the City's agenda and veto the Council at will. How much voice would you have if one individual could override your one council member. Presently the Mayor is ceremonial. Why change the system to concentrate power in one person, when we value democracy?

Measure HH would create a 'gatekeeper' mayor special interests will want to buy - a 'boss' with unprecedented powers to both control the City's agenda and veto your elected representatives at will. Citywide election of the mayor would attract large amounts of money, increasing the corrupting role of money in local elections.

Measure HH would divide the city, pitting one neighborhood against the other. It would divide the City artificially.

The Districts in Measure HH have been defined without public input.

Measure HH would prolong the election season, increasing the cost to run, waste taxpayer money, by requiring a second election for most seats, and reduce voter turnout as fewer people vote in spring elections.

Ballot measures should be clear, concise and single-issue focused. There are too many topics in Measure HH, including contradictory City Charter provisions. It was written without public process, forcing you to accept all its mandates without prior debate.

Official ballot arguments in opposition to Measure HH are signed by:

  • Michael Feinstein, Mayor, City of Santa Monica
  • Karen Carrey, President, League of Women Voters of Santa Monica
  • Herb Katz, City Councilmember, City of Santa Monica
  • Darrell Goode, Santa Monica/Venice Branch President of NAACP
  • Jim Glew, Vice-President, Santa Monica Firefighters Union

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Created: December 6, 2002 03:14 PST
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