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Presentation of Charter Study Task Force Final Report Scheduled for Monday’s Council Meeting

Published on Monday, June 10, 2024 | 4:00 am

The Charter reform process kicks into another gear on Monday.

The City Council is scheduled to review recommendations made by the Charter Study Task Force.

The City Charter serves as the City’s constitution and can only be amended by the vote of the people. There have not been substantial amendments in 20 years.

The Task Force made recommendations on election matters, including the process surrounding vacant seats, term limits, and campaign contributions.

The Task Force recommended setting campaign contribution limits at $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.

Currently, candidates can accept donations of $5,500 per person.

The City Council is not required to accept the Task Force’s recommendations and could give staff directions on next steps on Monday.

The City Council is scheduled to hold a review of Task Force recommendations on July 8 and at that time could direct City staff to prepare one or more ballot measure questions, schedule further discussion by the City Council, refer the matter to a Council Committee for review and recommendation prior to the July 22 City Council meeting or provide alternate direction.

At the July 22 meeting, City staff is scheduled to consider election resolutions to submit ballot measures, including any Charter Amendment measures approved by City Council, to Pasadena voters for their consideration.

The Task Force is also recommending that Council vacancies with less than two years remaining on the term be filled by appointment within 75 days. Applicants must live in the District for six months.

If there are two years left before the next election in the District where a seat becomes vacant or the City Council fails to make an appointment within the 75-day limit a special election would be held.

The process would be established by ordinance the details and process for Council District vacancy appointments, including a process for robust public outreach and engagement.

If the Mayor’s seat becomes vacant, a Mayor Pro Tempore would be selected from among the Council to assume mayoral duties until the next general election.

The City’s Vice Mayor would be elected annually by the Council to serve a one-year term and exercise the Mayor’s duties during absences. The Task Force recommended that the Vice Mayor selection process consider seniority and the benefit of rotation of the role.

Perhaps the biggest change recommended by the Task Force is term limits, which would limit Councilmembers and the Mayor to serving three four-year terms.

Elected officials could run for two additional terms after four years out of office.

The group failed to make a recommendation on the timing of the mayoral elections.

Currently the Mayor is elected at the same time as Councilmembers in Districts 1, 2, 4 and 6 which forces those members to give up their seats to run for Mayor.

Councilmembers in Districts 3, 5 and 7 are not required to relinquish their seats to run for Mayor.

The Task Force considered two solutions, a six-year term that would allow the Mayor to run at the same time as Councilmembers in 1, 2, 4, 6 and when the gavel came up for re-election it would coincide with elections for seats in 3, 5, and 7 bringing parity to the City Council and mayoral elections.

The other solution would have moved the mayoral elections to its own cycle where all Councilmembers would be able to run without giving up seats. However, that would necessitate a special election that could cost at least $5 million to open vote centers, mail ballots to voters across the elections, and staff the election.

Ultimately, the group decided not to recommend any changes be made to the timing of the mayoral election.

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