HomeCommunity NewsVoters Support Term Limits for School Board

Voters Support Term Limits for School Board

First published in the June 11 print issue of the Glendale News Press.

Voters in this election overwhelmingly approved establishing a three-term limit for Glendale’s school board members.
As of Friday’s update from the Los Angeles County Registrar, there were 21,334 votes cast in favor of the term limits, representing a resounding 88.57% of votes on that item. In contrast, just 2,752 residents voted against the measure. The limit will begin when the three school board members who were elected or reelected on Tuesday are sworn into office.
The Glendale Unified School District Board of Education had voted unanimously to place the ballot item, called Measure T, in the June primary election earlier this year, asking voters to decide whether board members should be limited to three four-year terms.
The measure had also garnered the support of the Glendale Council PTA, after it conducted an internal study and review of term limits and their use in local governing bodies. The organization began this review last year, prior to the measure’s placement on the ballot.
“It had been discussed [by] the school board before and it had been a topic of interest,” said Rebecca Johnson, the Glendale Council PTA president. “The committee met for several months and looked at term limits, in general, as well as school board term limits. We looked at school boards that had implemented them — most of them actually haven’t, which is interesting.”
Johnson said the committee members largely emerged in support of term limits because they are implemented at “most levels of government,” including, of course, for president and governor, and also the Glendale City Council. The PTA itself has term limits, she added.
Another big factor, Johnson noted, was the school board’s move from electing board members at-large to geographical districts, which she said can limit prospective candidates who face the advantage of a longtime incumbent.
“Ultimately, we felt that having term limits would bring in new people and ideas to the board,” she said, “and hopefully encourage greater participation of parents and voters and ultimately contribute to good governance of the school district.
“We’re absolutely pleased with the result,” Johnson added, “and feel it will really strengthen the school board over time.”
The Glendale Council PTA has historically avoided supporting or endorsing political candidates, but has followed legislation on schools and supported those sorts of initiatives in the past.
“Typically, that’s done at the state level, so it was somewhat unique for us to do this research at the local level,” Johnson said, adding she could not recall another such an instance in her seven-plus years with Glendale PTAs. “We were pretty happy and excited that we got to work on that. It was a very meaningful process for those on the local committee.”
The measure’s success represented a triumph for school board member Shant Sahakian, who had made term limits a signature issue of his first electoral campaign.
Sahakian helped bring the item to a board vote this year as one of his last acts for his first go-around as board president, and noted with pride that it won by a larger margin from when 84% of voters approved term limits for the City Council in 2017.
“I’m pleased that the voters overwhelmingly supported Measure T,” Sahakian, who was reelected unopposed to a second term Tuesday, said, “and I think it speaks to the point that term limits are a good practice for all levels of elected office.”
Although they are not legally required to do so, Sahakian has publicly committed to counting his first term toward his limit and Armina Gharpetian, in the lead to be elected to her third term Tuesday, said she will count her prior two terms toward her limit.

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