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Publication Date: Friday, March 14, 2003

Trustees say 'no' to term limits on ballot Trustees say 'no' to term limits on ballot (March 14, 2003)

School board splits on getting opinions at polls

by Teresa C. Brown

In a 3-2 split vote Tuesday, the school board trustees rejected an effort to add a term limit measure to the November ballot. Pleasanton Unified School District trustees Kris Weaver and Cindy McGovern voted in favor of including the measure on the ballot.

The measure would have addressed whether or not the trustees should be subject to term limits, but it would not have included defined limits.

Weaver, board president, encouraged the trustees to consider the issue from the standpoint of whether or not Pleasanton residents should vote on the limits, not if the trustees themselves support limits.

Nevertheless, school board members Pat Kernan, Juanita Haugen and Gloria Fredette spoke out against the issue. "We are a government unit, but not like the City Council," Kernan said. The board acts as one voice and are apolitical, he said. "I'm dead set against term limits."

Fredette cited the importance of board experience, adding as an example that Haugen has been a mentor because of her longevity in education.

Sonja Howes, president of the Association of Pleasanton Teachers, called term limits the "most damaging thing." The school board is not about giving everyone a chance to participate; it is about having the most competent person serving, she added.

On the other side of the issue, McGovern told the board there are a lot of qualified people in the community and they should be allowed to serve. "I believe in term limits," she said.

"I'm willing to put it on the ballot," Weaver said. Not taking a pro or con position, she stressed that she had faith in the community to make a term limit decision.

"I'm disappointed the trustees didn't put it on the ballot," said parent Julie Testa. "I wanted some discussion on the parameters of what's reasonable. I would have welcomed discussion on lifetime limits or consecutive limits."

She said she is an advocate of limits, especially after seeing the smooth City Council transition from outgoing members to incoming. "It was graceful, instead of battles that happen when an incumbent is in place."

Testa said she will explore the possibility of collecting signatures to have the measure added to the ballot. "I will spend some time and figure out the numbers and if it is practical."

In the November election, voters will decide on the seats of Haugen, McGovern and Weaver, whose four-year terms will expire in December. McGovern has said she does not plan to seek re-election. The terms of Kernan and Fredette expire December 2005.

Adding the ballot measure could cost the district less than $1,000 above the usual election expense. The Alameda County Registrar of Voters office reported the election cost is between $2-$3 per registered voter, plus an additional 12-cents-per-voter cost associated with the new touch screens. Additional costs come from the ballot itself and include typesetting, printing, mailing and translation. This cost is dependent on the number of words in the measure.

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