RSM Voters Support Term Limits, Ending Health Care Benefits for Council

The City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita includes (left to right): Brad McGirr, Steve Baric, Tony Beall, Carol Gamble and Jesse Petrilla. Photo/Martin Henderson
The City Council of Rancho Santa Margarita includes (left to right): Brad McGirr, Steve Baric, Tony Beall, Carol Gamble and Jesse Petrilla. Photo/Martin Henderson
CONTACT: Jon Fleischman jon@catermlimits.org 

(February 5, 2014)  By overwhelming margins, voters in the city of Rancho  Santa Margarita support a strong term limits measure for their elected city council members, and they similarly strongly support limiting council member compensation to the stipend allowable under state law, and ending council members taking health care benefits or compensation in lieu of healthcare, and being compensated for service on regional boards.


"I have seen a lot of surveys on the issue of city term limits but these are some of the highest numbers I have ever seen," said Jon Fleischman, President of California Term Limits, a 501c4 organization founded to promote term limits throughout the Golden State.  "Voters support a strong term limits policy for the city — limited serving to two four-year terms, period.  None of this "hopping off and back on" as is the custom in some cities."


Ventura County Supervisor Peter Foy, who served as Chairman of Americans for Prosperity, California, has been a leading advocate in California for reforming benefits and perks for local elected officials.  After reviewing the results of the survey on the question of whether RSM council members should be getting health care benefits and other compensation, had this to say, "It is not uncommon that part time officials adopt ordinances that allow themselves (and their successors) to get full time benefits — but it is not something that is popular with the public.  These survey results bear out what we have seen on this issue statewide, that the voters if asked would end those benefits right away."


A survey was conducted by the nationally recognized polling firm of NSON (http://nsoninfo.com) out of Salt Lake City, Utah in which 250 Rancho Santa Margarita voters were contacted and asked the following questions, gave the following responses:


A number of cities in California have adopted term limits for their local city council.  In Rancho Santa Margarita, there are no term limits.  In general, would you support or oppose a measure that creates term limits for the Rancho Santa Margarita City Council?

79.2%             Support

13.6%             Oppose

7.2%   Unsure/Need More information


A specific proposal for the November 2014 ballot would limit future service on the City Council to no more than two four year terms or a total of eight years.  After serving eight years on the council a person would no longer be eligible for future election.  If the election were held today would you support or oppose this new two term limit?

78%    Support

13.2% Oppose

8.8%   Undecided

Another item on the November ballot will eliminate certain types of City Council compensation.  In Rancho Santa Margarita, city council service is a part time job, but councilmembers receive health care benefits as if they were a full time city employee.  This measure would limit council compensation to the stipend allowed by current state law, but nothing more.  This also would prohibit the collection of extra benefits for serving on additional regional boards which the city council appoints themselves to.  If the election were held today would you support or opposed this ballot measure limiting council compensation?

77.6% Support

14%    Oppose

8.4%   Undecided


"In 2012 we looked at the idea of putting two measures on the ballot on these two issues — on enacting city council term limits and on limiting compensation of city council members — but did not want to proceed without first taking a public opinion survey to gauge where voters stand on these issues," said Fleischman, who until recently was a resident of Rancho Santa Margarita.   "These results clearly tell us two things:  The first is that the public expects their local elected officials to serve for a time, but then to return back to private life.  The second is that there is a strong dislike of benefits traditionally reserved for full-time employees, such as health care benefits, being made available to part-time elected officials.   We will now strongly consider working with local supporters to place these common sense reforms before city voters."


It is significant to note that previously RSM city council members Steve

Baric and Jesse Petrilla put before the council motions on these issues, but

those motions were rejected on 3-2 votes.


The NSON survey was conducted by live interviews with 250 residents of the city of Rancho Santa Margarita, conducted between 1/27/14 – 1/30/14.  The margin of error for this survey is +/- 5.18%.  Attached to this press release are the three questions in the survey that pertained to term limits and the benefits for council members, as well as the cross-tabs.


# # #

Email me for cross tabs.  Can't put them up on this site.
Robert Milner February 18, 2014 at 02:23 AM
Please tell me how long the current council members have served. I moved to RSM last year.
Janet Blake February 18, 2014 at 10:44 AM
Mr. McGirr is the most recently elected councilman. He was elected in 2012, defeating two others. Ms. Gamble was appointed in 2010 or 2011 and elected in 2012. I moved here when Mr. Baric and Mr. Petrilla were elected in 2010, both defeating an incumbent. Mr. Beall was elected in 2004.
Martin Henderson February 18, 2014 at 04:21 PM
RSM enacted "term limits" at the voting booth in 2010 with the election of newcomers Jesse Petrilla and Steve Baric. In 2012, newcomer Brad McGirr won a two-year term (2013-14, the remainder of Gary Thompson's seat, which was vacated in 2011) and he is currently running in 2014 for a four-year term. Carol Gamble, selected to council when the city incorporated but who resigned a couple years into service to care for her parents, was appointed in 2011 to fill the remainder of Thompson's first two years (2011-12) and won election in 2012 to a four-year term. Tony Beall was elected to council three times (2004, 2008, 20012), most recently with more votes than any candidate in the history of RSM. The current council has only one person with at least three years of consecutive service (Beall) and this is without formal/legalized term limits.
Robert Milner February 19, 2014 at 12:27 AM
Thank you Janet and Martin. So Mr. Beall has served close to 10 years. Mrs. Gamble has served close to 6 years? How long did Mr. Thompson serve? There is now a Jerry Holloway running who I understand is an former council member. How long did he serve? Martin, how long have you been a resident of RSM? Thank you for the answers.
Martin Henderson February 19, 2014 at 01:02 AM
I don't know the exact number for Gamble, I'd say it's probably closer to 5 years total at this point. Holloway has won two elections, but not sure if his first term was 2 years or 4 (I think it was 2). Thompson, like Gamble, was elected when the City incorporated and continued until until his resignation in early 2011. I am not a resident of RSM but covered RSM for three years as the local editor of Patch. During those three years, which I really enjoyed, Mayor Beall missed one grand opening (he showed up late to the Togo's grand opening because of a prior commitment) and has been at every City event I covered, although I did not go to every City event he attended. He was a machine. McGirr has shown a similar interest in "civic attendance" (for lack of a better description).


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