By Shawn Raymundo
The city council on Tuesday, May 5, called for a special election to fill the remaining two years on former Councilmember Dan Bane’s term. Bane resigned from elected office last month to take a job out of state.
The special election—the second one in consecutive years—will coincide with the city’s general election on Nov. 3, when two other council seats are up for grabs, as well as the positions of city treasurer and city clerk.
Voters this fall will also be asked whether term limits should be imposed on councilmembers. If the ballot measure passes, council seats will be limited to two consecutive terms, but a councilmember could serve again after a two-year lapse in service.
Councilmembers Chris Hamm and Gene James currently occupy the two seats that are up for election for four-year terms. James won last year’s special election race to serve out the final year of the late Mayor Steve Swartz’s term.
To differentiate between the general and the special elections, the city explained that candidates, upon filing their nomination papers, will need to specify whether they’re running for a four-year term or the two-year term. State law, according to the city, bars candidates from running for both open positions.
A couple of measures that had been proposed but won’t be making it on the ballot this November would have asked voters whether the city clerk and city treasurer should be council-appointed positions.
Joanne Baade is the current city clerk; the city treasurer position is currently held by Mark Taylor.
In a straw poll, the council was deadlocked over the proposal on those two measures, with Hamm and Councilmember Kathy Ward opposed to their inclusion on the ballot.
Councilors had also encountered a stalemate on the topic of appointing an interim councilmember while the city conducted its special election. In another straw poll, James and acting Mayor Laura Ferguson voted in favor of holding the discussion on the potential appointment.
With another deadlock, the council did not deliberate over the possibility of appointing a fifth member to the council.
According to the city, San Clemente’s contests are estimated to cost between $90,986 and $108,846.
As part of the decision to include the ballot measure on term limits, the council also voted to enact a subcommittee comprising Ferguson and James, who will be tasked with drafting an argument, on behalf of the council, regarding the measure.
That argument will be printed in the voter information guide, as well as the city attorney’s impartial analysis on the measure and rebuttal arguments for or against the question of enacting term limits.
According to Baade, written arguments from citizens will be due to the city by May 18, and rebuttals will be due by May 28.
The filing period for candidates interested in running for San Clemente’s elected offices is scheduled to open on July 13 and close on Aug. 7.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.