The Los Altos City Council received a legal opinion from city attorney Jolie Houston stating that councilmembers are eligible to return to the council after a hiatus from public service, even if they have already served two full terms in office.
Houston’s formal opinion comes at the request of Councilman Ron Packard – whose second consecutive term is set to expire in November. Packard asked Houston to weigh in at the July 24 council meeting. At the time, Packard told the Town Crier that he sought the legal opinion because he intends to run for Mayor Val Carpenter’s termed-out seat on the council in 2014.
According to a staff report, Houston stated that while the Los Altos Municipal Code limits councilmembers from serving more than two full terms consecutively, it “does not prohibit a city councilmember from taking a ‘break in service’ and then be elected to the council if he or she desires.”
Houston pointed to Measure G, approved by voters in 1999. The measure established a limit of two consecutive elective terms of four years, as well as the remainder of any partial term to which a councilmember is appointed or elected.
According to a city attorney analysis contained in the staff report, a termed-out councilmember would be “ineligible to run without waiting at least two years. The measure is structured so that a person may have a break in service and then be appointed or elected to the council should he or she so desire.”
The report also references several city ordinances regarding council term limits, including emergency ordinance No. 06-302, which coincidentally Packard signed in November 2006 as the city’s mayor.
The ordinance repealed Municipal Code section 2.04.030 because of “conflicting provisions” found in another code related to council term limits, section 2.04.020, according to the staff report.
Section 2.04.020 establishes that “no person shall serve more than two consecutive terms on the Los Altos city council, plus the completion of any unexpired term to which such person was elected or appointed.”
Section 2.04.030, on the other hand, was also adopted as a policy on restricting consecutive council terms. It states that “it is the policy of the city that no person shall seek election to a third consecutive term on the council.”