Woodside: Council discusses term limits before an all but empty room

The people should be initiating this, mayor and colleagues say

If Woodside voters are ever to decide on the question of whether members of the Woodside Town Council should be subject to term limits any time soon, the voters will have to get together and propose an initiative.

Mayor Chris Shaw on Tuesday night, Feb. 27, acting on a consensus of his colleagues, tabled a discussion on the subject to some future time. His decision followed some 30 minutes of arguments for and against the council putting the question on the November 2018 ballot.

Councilman Peter Mason got the discussion rolling by saying that citizens, not the council, should be taking the initiative to put the question before voters.

Mr. Shaw pointed out the flaws he says are inherent in a recent community survey in which half the respondents said they favored term limits. The survey was unscientific, he said, and involved around 12 percent of the town's population. The council chambers were all but empty for that night's discussion, he noted.

"If people really care, they show up," he said. He recalled the standing-room-only audience that gathered in Independence Hall in March 2017 when the council addressed the pig scramble – a controversial event at the annual junior rodeo in which children try to capture pigs in an arena.

The mayor said he would be "delighted to have (a term-limit question) on the ballot were it to come up from the citizenry and have people in here saying, 'You guys are all a bunch of bums,' but it would be just as easy for them not to vote for us."

Councilman Dave Tanner, a longtime council member, agreed, commenting further that term limits are more appropriate for federal representatives than local ones.

"It's guys like me who hang around and keep doing their job, all right, and we bring in some wisdom and stuff from the past," Mr. Tanner said. "(People) who understand where the town is going and where it's been. I don't think it should be up to us to put it on the ballot."

Councilwoman Anne Kasten said she was saddened by indications in the survey that many people were not paying much attention to what's going on in town. If the voters aren't paying attention to matters of importance to the town and the council is paying attention, then it is incumbent on the council to form questions for the voters to consider, she said.

"We are here to do things we think are good for the long-term vitality of the town," Ms. Kasten said. "If we think that this is something the town should be pondering and vote on, then I think it should be put out there. I feel that very strongly."

Councilman Tom Livermore, with subsequent support from Councilwoman Deborah Gordon and Councilman Daniel Yost, argued for the council asking voters about term limits simply because half the respondents to the survey indicated they were in favor of it.

Ms. Gordon said she thought it obvious that term limits should be voted on. But she later appeared to come over to Mr. Shaw's side of the argument.

With term limits and with few people running for election, she said, the council could end up with empty seats. That situation could raise questions about the utility of the town's longstanding requirement that council members live in particular neighborhoods so as to represent the whole town.


Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Opa closes in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 2,736 views

Could You Be In An Abusive Relationship and Not Know It?
By Chandrama Anderson | 5 comments | 1,612 views

Dinosaurs for baby girls
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 311 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 32nd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by April 6. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details