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Charter Reform Back Before City Council

Published on Monday, July 8, 2024 | 4:00 am

On Monday the City Council will consider several Charter Amendment proposals in anticipation of the November 5 general municipal election. 

These proposals stem from recommendations put forth by the Charter Study Task Force.

Among the key issues examined were the processes for filling vacancies in the Mayor and City Council positions, term limits for elected officials, campaign contribution limits, city council compensation, and the timing of mayoral elections.

As part of the election preparations, Pasadena officials are considering distributing a separate voter information pamphlet distinct from the county’s materials. The pamphlet would provide detailed insights into the Charter Amendment proposals, including impartial analyses and arguments both for and against each measure.

Here are the details of the proposed amendments:

Vacancy Appointment and Special Elections

One of the central recommendations of the Task Force concerns the procedures for filling vacant City Council seats. For vacancies with less than two years remaining in the term, the Task Force proposes an appointment process by the City Council within 75 days of the vacancy declaration. Candidates seeking appointment must demonstrate at least six months of residency in the respective district prior to the vacancy. In cases where vacancies have more than two years left, special elections would be mandated, timed to coincide with existing elections to minimize costs and maximize voter turnout.

Vice Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore Roles

Regarding the positions of Vice Mayor and potential Mayor Pro Tempore, recommendations include the annual selection of the Vice Mayor during the City Council’s organizational meeting in December. The Vice Mayor would assume mayoral duties in the absence of the Mayor, while the proposed Mayor Pro Tempore role would step in during extended mayoral vacancies until the next general municipal election.

Term Limits and Campaign Contribution Regulations

Term limits for City Council members and the Mayor were also scrutinized, resulting in proposed caps of three consecutive terms with the possibility of serving two additional terms after a four-year hiatus. This measure aims to balance continuity with opportunities for new leadership. Campaign contribution limits were another focal point, with recommendations suggesting caps on donations to candidates for Mayor and Council districts to curb undue influence and ensure fairness in elections. Contributions would be limited to $1,000 per person or entity for Council races and $2,500 for mayoral races, contingent on the City Attorney’s Office establishing an enforcement framework.

The city estimates that each Charter Amendment measure will cost approximately $80,000 to prepare and present to voters. Depending on the final number of measures approved for the ballot, Pasadena may need to allocate additional funds to cover all election-related expenses, including the potential printing and mailing costs of a supplemental voter information pamphlet.

The final decisions on which Charter Amendments will proceed to the November ballot will be made in an upcoming City Council meeting later this month. Measures must go to the registrar by Aug. 9

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