Letter: City Council needs term limits


Change is an everlasting reality so…Laguna Beach City Council, please put “Term Limits” for all our elected officials on the ballot now!

Sam Goldstein, former Liberate Laguna PAC member

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  1. This is a responsible community benefit suggestion coming from Mr. Goldstein/former Liberate Laguna PAC member.

    As a resident who has repeatedly requested that elected’s adopt City Council Term Limits like the majority of OC’s 34 Cities have done – I am in complete agreement.

    Another issue is the trend of hoarding the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem positions started in 2013 by 12 yr office holder Bob Whalen (Mayor/MPT 7 times in 10 years) and supported by member Sue Kempf (Mayor/MPT 3 times in 5 years) which speaks to council-control issues.

    YES City Council – please put Term Limits for Elected’s on the ballot now!

  2. Sam Goldstein/Laguna Beach Residents/Voters: Follow up: I sent this formal request to the City Council for Term Limits on November 14, 2023. I also spoke at Council on the topic as well. They ignored it. Why won’t our City Council allow LB residents to vote on adopting CC Term Limits?

    To: “Whalen, Bob” , “Weiss, George” , [email protected], Alex Rounaghi , Sue Kempf
    Cc: [email protected], [email protected]

    Dear Mayor and City Council Members

    The discussion on adopting Term Limits has been ongoing for years in our City. While it is rare that I have agreed with Indy columnist Michael Ray, here’s one of his former column messages on the need for Council Term Limits which I and many residents supported via their public comments. https://www.lagunabeachindy.com/opinion-musings-on-the-coast-18/

    Laguna Beach is one of a small number (3-5?) of cities among the 34 cities in Orange County that has not formally explored or moved to allow its voters to vote on Term Limits for its City Council Elected’s. While there various term limit examples to review I include here one adopted by the City of San Clemente in 2020 that was overwhelmingly passed by voters. https://ballotpedia.org/San_Clemente,_California,_Measure_BB,_City_Council_Term_Limits_(November_2020)

    Since that time many other cities and school boards have moved to establishing Term Limits, in fact, 61 Term Limit measures for publicly elected government officials in California have been adopted in recent years. See:

    I believe it’s time our City move forward to adopt City Council Term Limits as well. I ask that the Mayor instruct the Interim City Manager to agendize it for public discussion and determine the most expeditious way to get it before voters. While we are at it, it may be prudent to include Boards and Commissions appointments to Planning and DRB as well.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    MJ Abraham
    LB Resident
    Founder LBCHAT

  3. Sam thank you for asking for something that should have been done sooner, term limits for Council and Mayor. In my opinion there is no way Kempf and Whalen will help make this happen, or cooperate. We have been asking for 18 months. Voters that care will need to organize and petition for it so they will put it on the ballot. Now we likely would not see this until 2026. Just the way the monopolistic baton passers want it.

    Frankly I am hoping for litigation from several sources so deposition becomes means to expose city issues and bad actors. There are so many questions that call for investigation. Read this article in LBChat for examples.


  4. For once I agree with Sam on this. Why are the current CC members except George deaf on this suggestion?? Could it be their desire to hold on to power?? Back when the United States was formed representatives to governing bodies did it out of a sense of duty and only for a term or two. They NEVER made a career out of it because they had their lives to lead. Career politicians didn’t exist. That’s what this should be – sadly we need term limits to tell them their time is up.

  5. Amen, Sam and MJ.

    The Council majority’s refusal to produce term limits – as well as refusal to rotate mayoral terms – is yet another blatant power grab and straight arm in the face of what residents want.

    As we keep seeing, candidates will promise the public anything – including balanced budgets, transparency, data-driven decisions, and true resident representation. But once elected, way too many Councilmembers get drunk with power and will do anything to retain it – including go out of their way to ignore and push around the very voters who got them elected.

    It becomes all about them and what they want. They suddenly know what’s far better for everyone. So you’ll get what they want, and you’ll like it whether you like it or not.

    I keep hoping enough voters will recognize and remember this come next election and deny any incumbent or Councilmember-endorsed candidate who is part and parcel to this ongoing mockery of democracy.

  6. Are Council term limits “what residents want” as Jerome Pudwill states? Then why did they elect Toni Iseman for six terms? If Bob Whalen decides to run for a fourth term — which is the real issue here — he will win because most of us think he’s smart and experienced. Term limits would have prevented us from voting for him. Where’s the democracy in that?

  7. Chris, yes that “IS EXACTLEY” what Residents want, term limits.

    If You or our Current CC have any doubts about this, then the issue should be placed on the ballot and the Residents can decide, right? Only then, we will know for sure.

    What is the current CC “Majority” afraid of? Ask Yourself that simple question.

    Chris, there are fundamental reasons for “Term Limits” Please see U.S. Constitution (22ND Amendment) if You need help with this.

    Let the Voters decide.

  8. Chris – Good point. Does the majority of voters truly want term limits?

    Let’s find out. I dare the City Council to put this on the agenda and open it up to public debate. Or for that matter, include it as a ballot item during the next election.

    As I said, I dare them.

  9. City Council needs to respect recorded guidelines in the LB General Plan and execute the actions to achieve the goals therein. It’s the law. If Council conformed, rotation would be less consequential.

  10. So many intelligent and great comments made, thank you MJ for your letter in Nov, it is excellent with links but all we get is CRICKETS AND MORE CRICKETS..Let’s get the petition going, it is very necessary! We need to have a choice of viable candidates that actually care about residents and not about changing Laguna but enhancing Laguna and also making it livable for Residents..As we all know and see, everything we discuss or have questions about, circles around to the same problem as it was before because we have the same people in CC as before, all that is changing is the resentment..

  11. You don’t need to insult all the people who served alongside Toni during her 24 years on the Council to make your point, Liza. My point is that anyone who voted for Toni six times and now supports term limits is being hypocritical.

  12. Chris –

    That was then, this is now.

    Was term limits ever as hot a topic as it is now?

    Even if it was, if it’s as hot as it is now, then it needs to be publicly addressed.

    Many squawk about how grand change is and how we need more of it. Yet when something this substantial is proposed, these same folks want to dodge the subject.

    And that sounds hypocritical.

    Let’s open this up for public discussion and demand term limits if that’s the will of the people.

    Otherwise it remains an autocratic decision made by those in power – Councilmembers bent upon retaining power at the public’s expense.

  13. Mr. Quilter,
    Of course LB voters want smart and experienced leaders serving our City. The issue is when “smart and experienced” turns into “self-interest and controlling” and our government system and coffers become the means to meet primarily those agendas.

    LB voters should be concerned when they see well-funded, self-interest, multi-term elected incumbents whose best practices include controlling the Council by power-hoarding lead positions and disregarding government transparency and accountability.

    This stifling governing scenario is why 30 out of 34 OC’s cities voted overwhelmingly to adopt City Council Term Limits. The majority pf our neighboring city leaders listen to the people they serve. Shamefully our overly-controlling City Council majority refuses to do so.

    Mr. Quilter, maybe you can explain to Laguna Beach residents/voters why our City Council representatives have denied us the right to determine the service terms of our governing leadership. Thank you.

  14. I agree Jerome. City Council Term Limits have been a topic of discussion in LB and very other City in OC for well over a decade.

    Fact is, the majority of cities have elected people-serving representatives who listened instead of IGNORING and DENYING constituent requests for the right to vote on public official’s service terms as our Council majority has a done.

    IMO – by their repressive behavior and freedom preventing actions, these self-interest power-hoarders are not respecting the voters who put them in public office. Wake up LB Voters!


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