The Elk Grove City Council on March 11 agreed to discuss the possibility of having limits placed on the amount of time that council members can serve. This issue will be addressed as an agenda item in a future council meeting.
During the meeting, Vice Mayor Steve Detrick inquired about what it would take to limit how long a council member could serve.
City Attorney Jonathan Hobbs replied that he believed that it would need to be placed on a ballot for local voters.
City Clerk Jason Lindgren acknowledged that if it was the will of the council, the item could be presented as an option for local voters as early as this November’s election.
Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, who has been a supporter of council term limits, also requested that the topic of large campaign expenditures be discussed during the same future meeting.
“I think the city of Elk Grove reached the point where we really should be looking at political reform, particularly campaign contributions from entities within the city, outside of the city, independent expenditures,” he said. “I would like staff to bring back an item in which we can discuss that, as well.”
Following the March 11 meeting, Ly told the Citizen that he is not content with only placing term limits on those serving on the City Council.
“If we’re going to impose term limits on council members, I think it has to be imposed on commissions and boards, as well,” he said. “It doesn’t make any logical sense that currently we still have Planning Commission, Diversity and Inclusion Commission and everyone else that serves a lifetime.
“They leave when they feel like it, but yet at the same time, council members are vetted every four years and then the mayor is vetted every two years. I am running all the time. The moment I get re-elected, I’m already running for re-election.”
Ly further addressed campaign contributions.
“I think that it’s extremely important that our community has reached a point where we should consider campaign limits – limits from individuals from (Political Action Committees, aka PACs), from ‘dark money,’ PACS that have an interest here in Elk Grove that donate infinite amount of dollars,” he said.
“The vice mayor brought up one comment about free speech. I said, ‘Well, yeah, I understand free speech. People have the right to contribute, but let’s put a limit to dark money, and the kind of dark money that comes into Elk Grove.’”
In addition to discussing term limits in a future meeting, the council will also address campaign contribution.
Detrick told the Citizen why he supports term limits.
“I think one of the issues with not having term limits is people have a tendency to get stagnant, and I think that if you look at the presidential and many other seats, they’re no more than eight years,” he said. “And I think that’s a good time. You can get in there, take care of business, have your enthusiasm and then pass the baton off to somebody else.
“I think that having term limits brings in fresh blood, new ideas. There’s also, it’s bittersweet. If you’ve got somebody who’s not very good, it gets them out of office. If you’ve got somebody really good, unfortunately you would lose him at that point.”
Detrick also shared his thoughts on placing term limits on other city leadership positions.
“I’m just looking right now to start with the council, because that’s something that would have to go for election,” he said. “If we decide to do something different, that’s a whole other subject.
“I’m looking forward to the discussion with the rest of the council and see where we go.”