City Manager Alex McIntyre confirmed the matter is scheduled to be discussed at the council's next meeting on Tuesday, May 8.
According to California government code, the matter would have to go before voters, and — if the council supports it — could appear on November's ballot.
If voters were to support term limits come November, the restrictions wouldn't apply retroactively, according to the government code. In other words, current incumbents would still be eligible for three more consecutive terms.
Menlo Park's neighboring cities are somewhat split on term limit policies. Mountain View and Palo Alto both have council term limits of two consecutive four-year terms while Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley do not have council term limits.
Turning over incumbents
Both Mueller and Cline said they believe term limits are important as the city transitions from an at-large to a district election system.
"Frankly, my concern is that with smaller districts, it could make it so that it is intimidating for someone to run against a council person who has been there for some time period," Mueller said.
He added that he further supports limits because he believes it will promote turnover on the council and encourage new people to serve.
Cline said that the district system will advantage incumbents' re-election.
"It's hard to run against someone you know quite well, who lives five blocks from you," he explained.
Relatively small districts throughout the city will make it harder to get diverse and qualified candidates in the coming years, he predicted. In his own experience, Cline said, he thinks both name recognition and his council record helped him get re-elected. When it came to his own re-elections, he said, he didn't "actively participate" in campaigning, opting out of using his professional marketing skills, aggressive fundraising and flashy websites.
Cline said he had planned to step down from the council at eight years, but ultimately ran for a third term in 2014 because he felt the project he'd spent years working on, the city's downtown plan, was under threat. (The same year, the voter initiative Measure M proposed major restrictions to the development allowed in the city's downtown specific plan.)
"I didn't want to be someone who never left the dais," he said. A two-term cutoff, he added, "is probably preferred," but he has seen scenarios where more experience can be beneficial to the council.
He says he stands by his decision to remain on the council and maintain a moderate voice.
"I've tried to stay as objective as I can to things," he said. "I think you have to stay in the moment: What is the data? What is the community feedback? What are peer cities doing?"
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