Latest Brown-haifley Disagreement? Term Limits

Mayor Discounts Council President's Idea As Unnecessary

April 22, 1992|By Brian Sullam | Brian Sullam,Staff writer

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown believes the effort by City Council President William F. Haifley to limit terms of elected city officials is unnecessary.

"We already have a very effective way of limiting terms," said the mayor. "Look at the current list of elected officials. With the exception of the City Council president, we are all in our first terms."

The issue of limiting terms of elected city officials came up at last week's council meeting.

At the end of the meeting, Haifley, without any comment, passed out a memorandum calling for changes in the city charter that would limit the terms of the mayor and council members and require a city official to resign from his position if he runs for another public office.

"If in their wisdom the council approves the term limitation, it is something I can live with," Brown said.

But Brown said the so-called "resign-to-run" proposal is "something that doesn't make any sense."

Haifley, however, says the requirement that elected officials resign city positions before they runfor higher office makes a great deal of sense.

"Common sense tells me that if I chose to run for higher office I am going to neglect my duties," said Haifley.

He admitted that during his seven years in office, no one has used his or her city office as a springboard forhigher political office. Haifley said his proposal would "eliminate the problem before it may arise."

Haifley's proposals appear to beanother skirmish in the series of political battles he has been waging with the mayor.

The council president is still smarting from last month's vote on creating a second polling place in Westminster. Although he could not vote on the issue, Haifley failed to convince hiscolleagues that the polling place at the Fire Hall is sufficient.

To create a second polling place, the city charter has to be amended, and Haifley appears to be using this opportunity to open the charter for other measures.

In his memorandum, Haifley said the term limits will "limit political entrenchment and enlarge the opportunity for a greater choice of candidates."

Brown said the electorate already has the opportunity to limit terms, and Westminster voters exercised their ability to throw out incumbents by ousting two council incumbents in the last election in May 1991.

Haifley was first elected to the city council in 1985 and is serving his second four-year term.

In an interview, Haifley said the "resign-to-run" proposal would not affect a councilman running for mayor.

"I intended it to affect local officials who are running for county, state or federal offices," the council president said.

Brown said that the proposal wasn't well thought out.

"It seems to me that the system is working just fine," said Brown.

Brown said that if the "resign-to-run" requirement is designed to save the city the cost of special elections, it will fail.

"What happens if a person resigns from office or dies?"Brown asked. "We'll still need a special election."

In his memorandum, Haifley argued that the city "has a legitimate interest" in discouraging elected officials from vacating their offices for other positions.

"Any such restriction would not limit a candidate's ability to run for office on another government level," Haifley said.

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