Stockton Term Limit Challenge Fails

A former Stockton city councilman and bail bondsman has lost his challenge to the city’s term limit law in his 2012 campaign to block the former mayor from serving a new term.

Ralph Lee White, who served as city councilman in the 1980s during a tumultuous period in the city’s history. In 2012 he threw his hat in the ring for mayor, along with Ann Johnston, who was blamed by many for the city’s bankruptcy and rise in rates of violence.

Johnston beat White in the primary along with other candidates but then she lost re-election in a landslide to Joe Silva.  But that didn’t stop White from pursuing his legal challenge.

The city charter limits a person elected either as mayor or city councilmember to serve no more than two terms. White argued this was a cumulative limit, so that Johnston, who had served two terms on the council, was not eligible to run for mayor.

The Third District Court of Appeal on Friday disagreed.  “The measure applies to the offices of mayor and council member separately, not cumulatively,” the appeals court held.

The court’s decision upholds the city’s interpretation as “the only reasonable interpretation.”

The term limit was approved in a 1986 Stockton general election, some in the city have contended it was aimed at White who was on the council at the time.

Case:  White v. City of Stockton, No. C073482



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