City Councilman Mike Eggers saw two things he didn’t like in last November’s elections.
One was a councilman in a neighboring city being elected to a fourth straight term. The other was a councilwoman spending more than $30,000 to win a seat.
As a result, Eggers has proposed two city ordinances he hopes will prevent those things from happening in Dana Point. One ordinance limits council members to two consecutive terms. The other would limit all campaign contributions to $100.
Eggers says the two, which will be discussed tonight, are related.
“The presence of incumbents in any election tends to drive up the costs,” Eggers said. “I believe the time to put a cap on these things is right now.”
When it comes to years of council service, Eggers contends, eight is enough.
“Eight years is a long, long time,” Eggers said. “If a councilman cannot get something done in that length of time, I think there is a major problem. Besides, I think any longer than that and you get stale.”
Seven other cities in the county have two-term limits. They are Cypress, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Santa Ana, Seal Beach and Villa Park.
Eggers said his intent is not to remove anyone from office. But, he said, “by limiting consecutive service to two terms, we will open the door for new ideas and new leadership on the City Council.”
He also contends that the mere presence of incumbents in any race tends to inhibit others from entering. For example, San Juan Capistrano had not had a new face for a decade, he said. Then, when two incumbent councilmen decided not to run in November, 14 candidates jumped into the council race.
One of those candidates who just left office, former San Juan Capistrano Councilman Phillip R. Schwartze, disagreed with Eggers’ argument.
“If someone is responsive to the voters, I don’t think it matters how long he’s been in there,” Schwartze said. “If he’s doing a dynamite job, he should stay on. If not, the voters can easily vote him out of office.”
But voting an incumbent out of office can be expensive, Eggers maintains. Incumbents can, and usually do, raise campaign money effectively, he said.
“People are more inclined to give money to an incumbent than a challenger,” he said. “Incumbents are known quantities.”
Mission Viejo candidate Sue Withrow “took out a second mortgage on her house to raise funds,” Eggers said. “I think that’s getting out of hand. I’m proposing bringing these things back to reality.”