Failed City Council Candidate Appeals Term Limit Loophole

If successful, a legal challenge to a loophole in San Diego’s term-limits could make Councilwoman Lorie Zapf ineligible to run for a third term in office, according to court filings.

In 2011, the Bay Ho home where Zapf and her family live shifted from District 6 to District 2 during her first term in office. The city re-drew council district boundary lines that year, after the U.S. Census.

Zapf, a Republican, contends she’s eligible for a third term because the term limits started when her chair moved from District 6 to District 2.

However, Bryan Pease, an attorney who finished third in last month’s District 2 primary, has filed a challenge to Zapf’s reelection bid. He is arguing his challenge Thursday in front of a three-justice panel in the fourth appellate court of appeals.

Pease’s challenge says the November runoff should be between him and Jen Campbell, a doctor and a fellow Democrat.

In his 24-page appeal, Pease wrote: “the term limit law is not concerned with what district a councilmember purports to represent.”

“Defendant/Respondent Councilmember Lori Zapf, in clear contravention of the will of over 75% of San Diego voters who enacted term limits in 1992, is attempting to do what no council member has done since then, which is to run for a third consecutive term,” the court filing states.

If he wins the appeal, Zapf will not be able to run on the November ballot.
Currently, the council make-up is one Democrat shy of being able to override vetoes by the Republican Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

If successful, the November runoff would be between Campbell and Pease, also a Democrat.

The 5-4 council majority for Democrats would shift to 6-3, giving the City Council power to override mayoral vetoes.

Attorneys for Zapf responded to Pease’s appeal challenge, calling the action “frivolous.”

“Councilmember Zapf garnered 43 percent of the vote, twice as many votes as second place finisher Dr. Jennifer Campbell, who will face Councilmember Zapf in the November 2018 general election,” the response for Zapf states.

“Contestant Pease is hyper-focused on a single word in Charter section 12(c), and even more fixated on a single limited interpretation of that word which would switch him from being a losing to a winning candidate … He claims there is confusion in the law when there is none, all in an effort to gain access to the general election ballot after the electors of District 2 rejected him at the primary election.”

Meanwhile, an effort to close the term-limits loophole may appear on the November ballot.

The full City Council will consider next month putting a ballot measure before voters that would prohibit council members from serving longer than eight years even if they shift districts.

Contact Us