On Term Limits

I recently took some questions on my comments about my opponent’s campaign for “an unprecedented third term in a row”. This was actually one of the major reasons I ran; if Teresa had backed up what she said in 2016, this race would likely have very different people running in it. Although many of the questions are recent, I addressed this issue quite a while ago. Now it seems worthwhile to make that public.

From an e-mail sent by her former treasurer on 30 September 2020 at 00:39 in the morning:

“The incumbent in District 4 is running for an unprecedented third term in a row,”

Please explain this part of your Facebook page, after considering Patty Mahan’s terms in office. It’s OK for Mahan to bounce around for decades by switching seats but not someone else?? How is this “unprecedented” given Mahan’s history shown below? I thought you had more integrity than to play those games. And if you are going to play those games, then you must admit that Teresa’s not running for seat SEVEN again (since there are now only six seats) which would still invalidate the claim. Can you please explain what’s so “unprecedented” now?

I think he actually means my website as opposed to my Facebook page, but that is beside the point. My response was as follows:

Patty Mahan is an interesting case. If you recall, she and I had a rather contentious relationship in council. I routinely spoke out against her and routinely opposed her elections. I can state that I have never supported a Patty Mahan campaign and that I have instead supported people running against her in every election she participated in that I was a voter. Her tenure is pretty impressive. And was allowed by the charter prior to the charter amendment. While long, it was not something she had to defend.

Teresa O’Neill’s case is different, both in spirit and in letter. She was on the council when the recommendations and subsequent change in term limits were made. The measure set a lifetime term limit (two terms), and it was likely Patty Mahan’s example that instigated the change. But the change came with a loophole.

Teresa has stated on several occasions that she believed in term limits. She left the school board after her terms because of this stated belief, to allow new people like Noellani Sallings to participate. On the loophole, Teresa seemed to be very clear:

“Council Member Teresa O’Neill said that she hoped current and former Council Members would honor the spirit of this law.”


And now she is the first to use that loophole without any uncertainty or doubt. Why do you think her case is the same as Patty Mahan’s?

The fact that the names of the seats changed, a requirement by our change to districts, does not change the people who are in the seats. I voted for the term limits explicitly to oppose the kind of “recycling” we had been experiencing. I do not believe anyone would have accepted that a change to the seat numbering would have invalidated a term. But now you seem to be saying it does. Teresa does not seem to mind. Who is playing games here? Who is the one that lacks integrity?

I never supported the loophole and spoke out against it many times. The explanation for the loophole was to “avoid potential lawsuits with former councilmembers who could sue the city”. I do not support frivolous lawsuits, but this seemed like a potential that would play unfavorably to anyone that wanted to sue the city and run for a third term — or more — in the city.

The interesting thing is that I never made my disagreements with Patty Mahan personal, and now she is a big supporter of my campaign. Her last term, dealing with her health and a toxic city council that moved to censor both her and Councilmember Pat Kolstad for standing up to the council majority bloc, showed how much she supported the City of Santa Clara. We did not always agree. But Santa Clara was always the subject of the conversation. And on that we both agreed, and agree to this day. History will show, stains and all, that it was Patty that was a true daughter of Santa Clara, not a council majority bloc voting in unison to repress the citizens.

With Teresa O’Neill, it seems her first disagreement starts with herself.