Barstow's representatives in Sacramento say they support a ballot initiative that would change the legislature's term limit restrictions and allow them to run for re-election.

Proposition 93, which will appear on the Feb. 5 ballot, would reduce the maximum term that legislators can serve in the Assembly or the Senate from 14 to 12 years but allows all 12 years to be spent in one house. Opponents of the law say that the measure will weaken existing term limits laws and encourage incumbents to serve special interest groups.

State Assembly member Bill Maze, R-Visalia and state Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, both of whom are restricted from running again under current law, say the rules change is needed to preserve the experience that veteran lawmakers build while in office.

"I support it very strongly. First, I don't believe in term limits. I don't think there should be any barrier between people and their elected representative," Ashburn said. "There is chaos in the legislature today because of the turnover. Every one of these people who are new are trying to make a name for themselves. All of the bad ideas that have been rejected in the past are reintroduced again."

He said that through his eight years of service he's been able to develop seniority and receive positions on the influential Rules and Appropriations committees of the Senate as well as develop relationships with his constituents.

"I think both Bill Maze and I have built a very solid working connection with the Barstow City Council, the District Supervisors and local officials. It takes time to build those up," Ashburn said.

Maze said that voters should have the choice to re-elect incumbents.

"The ballot box is a term limit," he said. "The electorate and constituents are smart enough to know when they aren't being served well by their leaders."

Maze, first elected to the Assembly in 2002, has won his three previous races by a significant margin and plans to run again if Proposition 93 passes. If the measure fails, his wife, Becky Maze, plans to run for his seat.

Yermo resident Bob Smith, who is also running for Maze's seat, said the ballot initiative as worded is deceitful, because proponents say it will reduce term limits overall. However, Smith believes the proposition will prolong incumbents' stay in office. He doubts the measure will pass.

"I think it will go down in flames," he said.

Smith acknowledged that if Bill Maze were allowed to run again, it would make the campaign more difficult. He said that he will look at how the district's residents vote on the proposition in order to decide how to continue with the campaign. If a majority of district voters opposes the proposition it could signal how they feel about Maze's leadership, Smith said.

Some groups say that passage of Proposition 93 will prevent new politicians from bringing change to the legislature.

"Term limits bring in fresh people with new ideas," said Kevin Spillane, spokesman for the group No on 93, which opposes the measure. "It's the only kind of accountability these politicians really have to the voters."

He said that incumbent politicians have a higher tendency to cater to special interests and are more vulnerable to becoming corrupt.

"I think the motivation behind this (by incumbents) is strictly to remain in the legislature," he said.

He said the measure was strongly supported by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, and Senate President Don Perata, D-Oakland, both of whom are restricted from running again under current law.

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