Local Elections

This local city council will let voters decide whether to impose term limits

Folsom Mayor Steve Miklos, seen here with Congresswoman Doris Matsui at a ribbon cutting in 2009, expressed skepticism about plans to put a term-limits measure for council members on the November ballot.  March 28, 2009
Folsom Mayor Steve Miklos, seen here with Congresswoman Doris Matsui at a ribbon cutting in 2009, expressed skepticism about plans to put a term-limits measure for council members on the November ballot. March 28, 2009

Folsom City Council members could face term limits for the first time if a ballot measure is approved in November.

After a lengthy debate, the council decided last week on a ballot measure that would restrict council members to four consecutive four-year terms. After that, a council member could choose to run again after a four-year time-out. The council also approved a ballot measure raising the campaign contribution cap for residents from $150 to $500.

Both measures were pillars of Councilman Roger Gaylord III's election campaign. He had run in 2012 and 2014 before successfully breaking through in 2016.

"I feel a little like the dog who caught the car because I didn't expect (term limits) to be on the agenda," he said during the meeting.

In a phone interview, he said bringing new blood onto the council allows for new ideas and diversity in leadership.

"When elected officials spend decades in certain spots, you tend to lose focus and lose touch with your constituents," he said. These measures help to "purge special interests from the process."

Three out of the five current council members would be barred from seeking re-election in the next cycle if these limits were currently in place. But the limits, if imposed, cannot be retroactively applied to incumbents.

Regardless, Mayor Steve Miklos and Councilman Andy Morin both repeatedly said during the meeting that they would not be seeking re-election this fall.

Councilman Ernie Sheldon voted against putting the measure on the ballot because he preferred a three-term limit. He is currently serving his third term, which he felt was the amount of time necessary to accomplish his goals on the council.

Gaylord said the $150 campaign contribution cap makes it difficult for candidates who do not have support from political action committees to make headway in Folsom's elections. Two of Folsom's main PACs are funded by the Chamber of Commerce and the development community.

PACs can spend as much as they want in support of a specific candidate as long as they don't coordinate with that candidate's campaign. But if a candidate doesn't have PAC support, it's much more difficult to collect enough $150 donations to buy an equivalent number of fliers or yard signs, Gaylord said.

"As a challenger, you have no way to raise enough money to compete," he said. "It's important to be able to reach out to the community, people who live in the community who want to invest."

Councilmembers Miklos, Morin and Kerri Howell expressed skepticism about both items but agreed to allow the voters to decide. Miklos was particularly outspoken about the term limits, saying several times that he "hates" them.

Miklos has served on the council since 1994. Howell joined him four years later and Morin was elected in 2002.

Most public speakers cautioned the council about taking choice away from voters by driving popular leaders out of office, and limiting the institutional knowledge that could be maintained on the council.

Resident Russ Davis called term limits "a solution looking for a problem" and mentioned the role Folsom's city council members play in the Sacramento region as they serve on boards such as the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Regional Transit and Regional Sanitation.

He said the respect garnered by the long-serving council members ensures that Folsom gets its fair share of funds funneled through the regional agencies.

Ellen Garrison: (916) 321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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