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Council Votes to Send Initiatives to November Ballot

Published on Tuesday, July 9, 2024 | 5:26 am

On Monday the City Council approved initiatives that would change the City Charter and cap campaign contributions and establish a mayor pro tem position.

Voters will vote on those issues, term limits and how vacancies are filled on the Nov. 5 ballot.

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

Vice Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore Roles

The City Council voted to appoint a Mayor Pro Tempore by four votes, instead of five, if the mayoral position becomes available.  The position was renamed to “Acting Mayor” in the final motion.

Regarding the positions of Vice Mayor and potential 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.

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 City Charter Amendment proposals, including impartial analyses and arguments both for and against each measure.

Vacancy Appointment and Special Elections

The City Council voted to require applicants for vacant City Council seats to live six months within the City before being appointed.

For vacancies with less than two years remaining in the term, the City Council must complete the 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.

Term Limits and Campaign Finance Limits

The City Council also voted to send a term limit initiative that would cap Councilmembers and the Mayor to the ballot. The terms would be capped at 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.

The City Council also stumbled through a 5-3 vote to craft an ordinance for inclusion in the Charter that would limit campaign contributions.

At a later date, the City Council will discuss a trigger that could lift campaign finance options under certain conditions by ordinance, including independent expenditure and self-funding.

Several Councilmembers can write themselves large checks to fund their campaigns, but their opponents could be limited to the campaign limits.

If the voters approve it, donations for the Mayor and City Council candidates would be limited to $2,500 and $1,000 respectively, per person or entity.

Per a City Charter amendment, the limits cannot be changed for two election cycles.

The campaign finance limits will include an escalator (likely tied to inflation), which was part of the final motion.

The City Attorney’s Office will establish an enforcement framework.

The item underwent several motions and substitute motions. After the matter was passed, an additional motion was proposed although the City Council had already taken action on the matter.

The City estimates that each City 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 City 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 County registrar by Aug. 9.

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