Court: Troutdale council initiative petition constitutional
A Multnomah County Circuit Court judge has ruled a Troutdale citizens' initiative petition regarding term limits is constitutional.
On May 14, Troutdale City Councilor David Ripma filed an objection claiming the petition to enact term limits for city councilors in Troutdale violates the Oregon constitution because it contains two issues: One is a vote on term limits and the other topic is that the measure could remove currently serving city councilors.
Judge Kathleen Dailey ruled on Tuesday, May 29, that the petition is constitutional because the issues are directly related.
"Article section IV (2)(d) of the Oregon Constitution requires that amendments 'shall embrace one subject only and matters properly connected therewith.' However, Oregon Courts have interpreted the 'single subject' requirement liberally, explaining that the 'standard typically is satisfied so long as a proposed law or amendment addresses a single substantive area of law, even if it includes a wide range of connected matters intended to accomplish the goal of that single subject," Dailey wrote in the ruling.
If petitioners gather enough signatures, and the initiative passes on the November ballot, the measure would limit councilors to serving eight years in a 12-year period, except currently serving councilors if they receive more votes than the measure does.
"That is, a person receiving more voter support than this measure, may serve the term 2019-2022," the proposed ballot states.
Two councilors, Ripma and Rich Allen, could possibly be unseated if the ballot were to pass and they don't receive more votes than the proposed ballot measure.
During the hearing Friday, May 25, City Attorney Ed Trompke countered the claim that the initiative contains two issues, noting that the exception gives serving councilors a way to continue their service if the measure passes, instead of getting thrown off the council immediately.
"These are directly related matters," Trompke said. "It stops an unfairness by allowing them to run and serve. (Ripma) just has to go out and hustle more votes."
The filer of the petition now has until June 25 to gather signatures from 15 percent of registered voters in Troutdale for it to appear on the November ballot.
The judge's ruling is final, as it cannot be appealed.
Ballot title change
The second part of Ripma's official objection was that the name — or title — of the measure was misleading because the original didn't mention the possible removal of councilors.
Dailey ruled in favor of rewording the ballot title, which will change to, "Adopts term limits for council, mayor, disqualifies winning candidates, exception." And the question posed will be changed to, "Shall Troutdale limit council, mayor terms to eight years of twelve, disqualify elected candidates receiving fewer votes than this measure?"
Trompke said the city did not oppose changing the name.
After the hearing, Ripma said just getting the ballot title changed would be worthwhile.
"I would prefer more, but I'd be satisfied with that result."