By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- The battle between Moving Oxnard Forward and the City of Oxnard continues, as the council voted to adopt the voter initiative that limits the term in office for an elected official.
The initiative limits the Mayor and the City Council to two consecutive terms, requiring a two-year break before becoming eligible to serve again. The mayor will move from a two-year to a four-year term in 2022.
The initiative had an extensive signature-gathering effort by Moving Oxnard Forward Principals Aaron Starr and Alicia Percell.
City Clerk Michelle Ascencion told the council and staff that she presented them with a certificate of sufficiency for four of the five initiatives, and the item before them required further verification from the county election commission. The random sampling of signatures for the petition in question was slightly under the threshold for qualifying.
"The code mandated that a full count had to be performed to ensure there were 8,401 valid signatures," she said. "The county verified last week that there were."
During public comments, Aaron Starr thanked everyone who helped him and Percell, and the group came close to getting the 110 percent to avoid a full count.
The vote garnered 108.7 percent of the needed signatures.
"We are a little disappointed that we had to get a full count," he said. "We wanted to avoid that extra time and expense."
He pointed out that the staff direction in Dec. was to provide a 9212 report, an impartial report about the impact the initiative will have on the city, and he doesn't see reports on all five, per the council's directive.
"I don't know if that's an oversight, or it's being ignored," he said. "I don't know. I didn't support the reports, but I do believe that when a council makes a decision, it should be implemented by the staff, even if I am not on the winning side of that decision."
During public comments, Ray Blattel told the council it's true the voters elected all of them to represent the best interest of the city, and the city hired a consultant to analyze the report on the initiatives.
"This report echoed what the staff wanted to say, and the entire voter population in the city had the opportunity to read it, to see it, hear for themselves and draw their conclusions," he said. "The information was out there. However, you don't trust the voters to make smart choices, or you think the voters are stupid, or you think the voters can't analyze the pros and cons and make their own decisions. Remember, these stupid and untrustworthy voters put you where you are seated right now. It sure seems like you want to silence the voice of the voters."
City Attorney Stephen Fischer said the council could request a 9212 report if they'd like.
"Adoption of the ordinance is one of the two approaches that has been requested by the proponent, as I recall," he said. "With Measure B on the March 2020 ballot, the voters will have the opportunity to consider the adoption of four good governance measures."
After the council adopted the ordinance, Starr said the council employed Machiavellian politics by adopting the initiative.
"All the literature out there in the voter handbooks says there are no term limits, and if you vote for this, you will put in term limits," he said. "What the city council just did was they adopted our measure knowing that people are going to be voting to vote for what they think are term limits, but what they are really going to be doing is voting to loosen term limits. That's what Measure B will do. It was a really underhanded move, and something we thought was possible. We didn't think the city would move into a Banana Republic, such as this."
Percell said they could adopt Measure B and avoid the cost of the election.
"Oh, we want to save the money," she said. "We're just going to adopt this. They didn't adopt this because they want it to be the policy; they want to kill this because they want their measure to override it."