Orange County Seal

By Jordan Graham / Staff Writer
Updated July 26, 2016 – 7:39 a.m.

Orange County supervisors are expected to vote Tuesday to add a countywide initiative to the November ballot asking voters to change their office’s term limits.

The change would institute a lifetime limit of three four-year terms, which could be served consecutively. Currently, supervisors can serve only two consecutive terms but there is no lifetime limit.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who proposed the initiative three weeks ago, has argued that the new term limits would allow supervisors to serve long enough to wield their experience, while preventing politicians from jumping to the statehouse and back.

Opponents of the ordinance, including Supervisor Todd Spitzer and local Republican activist Jon Fleischman, have called the proposal a naked ploy for Nelson and other supervisors to allow themselves more time in office.

When the initiative was proposed, it was written in a way that would have allowed all current and past supervisors to serve an additional three consecutive terms, because state law requires term-limit changes for county supervisors to apply only going forward, not retroactively.

A new version of the initiative, however, includes language that attempts to apply the proposed term-limit changes to current and past supervisors – potentially preventing Spitzer from ever again running for supervisor after his current bid and allowing past supervisors only one more term should they decide to return.

The change would allow Nelson, who is otherwise set to be termed out in 2018, to run for an additional term. But Nelson said he plans to run for judge, not supervisor, that year.

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