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West Hollywood Activists 'Fed Up,' Look to Pass Term Limits For City Council Members

In a town where City Council members are almost never voted out of office, West Hollywood community activists have reached a boiling point -- and they're pushing hard to place a term limits initiative on the March 2013 ballot.

"It's very hard for a grassroots activist to raise over $100,000 and beat an incumbent," former West Hollywood Councilman and neighborhood activist Steve Martin tells L.A. Weekly.

Final language for the ballot measure is still being worked out, but Martin expects a signature drive to start up soon. The initiative will allow for only three, four-year terms.

"It's a very conservative measure," says Martin. "There's no retroactive effect, either. The [current] City Council can serve for another 12 years."

Those three, four-year terms can be served consecutively or scattered. But 12 years will be the most anyone will able to serve on the West Hollywood City Council, if community activists get their way.

"People are getting really fed up," Martin explains about the reason for the ballot measure. "We're looking to keep [the City Council] fresh, and to elect people who have a vision -- and a vision they enact."

The former councilman say local politicians only have a vision for more development.

As of now, West Hollywood Councilman John Heilman has served for 27 years. His colleagues John Duran has served for 11 years, Abble Land 20 years, and Jeff Prang 15 years. Councilman John D'Amico was voted into office in 2011.

West Hollywood became a city in 1984. Heilman has served on the council for the city's entire 28-year history. Only two incumbents have ever been voted out of office.

A term limit initiative was put before voters in the late-1990s, but it was voted down.

Martin hopes the City Council will place the term limit language on the ballot themselves, but doesn't expect that to happen.

Instead, community activists will probably have to conduct a petition drive and obtain between 3,000 and 4,000 signatures from registered West Hollywood voters. If they reach that goal, the initiative will be placed before voters in March 2013.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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