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City attorney says term-limit measure won't unfairly affect councilwoman

Roseville city attorney's revised interpretation of term-limit measure determines that the proposal affects all council members equally
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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A term-limit proposal that some felt unfairly targeted Roseville City Councilwoman Pauline Roccucci won’t actually affect her at all. Roseville’s city attorney has revised her interpretation of the term-limit proposal, which may be enough to put concerns over the contentious ballot measure to rest. “The ballot measure itself does not contain any known errors,” said City Attorney Brita Bayless in a prepared statement. “The sole error was in my interpretation of its likely effect.” She made her statement to the public during Wednesday’s city council meeting. The ballot measure in question would amend the Roseville City Charter to state that a city council member could serve no more than three terms in the course of a lifetime. Bayless says the term limit proposal — if approved by voters — would affect all current council members equally because everyone’s number of terms served would reset to zero. The measure would apply only to terms served after the date the measure is adopted and becomes law, which means only terms beginning after that date would count toward the three-term lifetime limit. Bayless’ previous interpretation determined that the three-term limit applied to terms served in the past and present, as well as in the future. Richard Roccucci, husband of Mayor Pro Tempore Pauline Roccucci, has publicly called the proposal unfair and self-serving. Other opponents said it singled out Pauline Roccucci, who is currently the only council member serving her third term in office. Councilman John Allard set the record straight during Wednesday’s council meeting. “There were some public comments and some things written in the paper and some charges made about what the council did, which we didn’t do … that we were scheming to get someone and that was never, ever the case,” he said. Richard Roccucci had previously expressed concern that the rule would be retroactive and illegal. Bayless said through further research she ultimately concluded that the measure itself, as drafted and as submitted to Placer County, would be lawful if enacted. “However, its effect and application would be different from what I have previously stated,” she said. The Roseville City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of the measure June 2, with Pauline Roccucci casting the dissenting vote. Currently, council members can serve a maximum of two consecutive terms — eight years — then sit out an election cycle and run again. If voters pass the measure, Roseville will be the only city out of 59 similar cities to have lifetime term limits for elected officials. Pauline Roccucci previously served on the council from 1989 to 1998, which included a two-year stint as mayor. As the highest-vote getter in the November 2008 election, she becomes mayor this fall when current Mayor Gina Garbolino leaves office. The term-limit measure will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot. Pauline Roccucci praised Bayless Wednesday for thoroughly researching the issue. “Thank you for bringing the information back (to us),” she said. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com.