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West Hollywood Activists Take First Step in Placing Term Limits on City Council

West Hollywood community activists Elyse Eisenberg, Scott Schmidt, and Sheila Lightfoot made it official this week: They've filed the paperwork at City Hall to start the process of getting a term limits initiative placed on the March 2013 ballot.

"We are asking the City Council to let the voters have a say on term limits," Scott Schmidt, a one-time City Council candidate, says in a press release. "Since the voters of West Hollywood last considered a more restrictive version of term limits in 1997, L.A. City, L.A. County and the state of California have all come to agree that twelve years is enough time to accomplish one's goals in public office -- and that is what we are asking for in West Hollywood."

The next step for the pro-term limits camp will be a petition drive. If that's successful, West Hollywood residents will vote on the ballot measure next year.

L.A. Weekly broke the story about West Hollywood's term limits movement last month. Former councilman Steve Martin said residents are getting "fed up" with what he views as stagnation on the City Council.

"We're looking to keep [the City Council] fresh, and to elect people who have a vision -- and a vision they enact," he told the Weekly.

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

"While all of the West Hollywood Council members have done many good things for the city during their tenure, these should not be lifetime positions," Elyse Eisenberg says in a press statement. "The direction and values of the city have strayed dramatically from its core values when first established in 1984. It is time for fresh faces and new visions which support the existing residents and local businesses."

Sheila Lightfoot adds, "West Hollywood has so many creative, intelligent and engaged residents. We need term limits to give of them a chance to represent their friends, neighbors and local businesses over the monied interests."

A term limit initiative was put before voters in the late-1990s, but was voted down. Expect a pull-no-punches political battle this time around. Community activists want to limit City Council members to three, four-year terms.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.