Term Limits Strikes Again

Beth Gaines

Beth Gaines

Today is “term out” day for fifteen members of the State Assembly. Under California’s first term limits law, legislators were forbidden from serving more than three terms in the Assembly. A court decision later clarified that partial terms of less than half a term wouldn’t count as a full term, meaning that the halfway point was when a term actually counted for the purposes of term limits.

So today, the first day past the halfway point in their third term, is past the official point of no return for Assemblymembers Achadjian, Alejo, Atkins, Bonilla, Campos, Gaines, Gatto, Gordon, Grove, Hernandez, Jones, Olsen, Perea, Wagner and Williams.

This brings the number of people who, due to term limits, are unable to ever run for the Assembly again to 226 (69 women and 157 men). There are also currently 97 people (23 women and 74 men) who are unable to run for reelection to the Senate.

 

Two Ways to Measure Tenure

A follow-up to the recent post about legislator age statistics… another interesting way to look at the Legislature and the passage of time is to look at the members who had the longest legislative careers.

But, as with everything else, there are multiple ways to measure “the longest legislative careers”; the easiest way to explain it is “Time in Office” vs. “Length of Career.”

Ralph Dills

The first and most common way to measure career longevity is to look at how long a member held elected office. That’s how we do it on JoinCalifornia’s Longest Terms in Office page. The longest-serving state legislator is Ralph Dills, who was a member of the Legislature for 42 years and 18 weeks. The top 25 officeholders by this measure are:

25 Legislators with the Longest Time in Office:

Legislator Time in Office
1 Dills, Ralph C. 42 years, 18 weeks
2 Thomas, Vincent 37 years, 48 weeks
3 Vasconcellos, John 37 years, 48 weeks
4 Petris, Nicholas C. 37 years, 48 weeks
5 Collier, Randolph 37 years, 48 weeks
6 Marks, Milton 37 years, 48 weeks
7 Slater, Herbert W. 36 years, 32 weeks
8 Greene, Leroy F. 35 years, 48 weeks
9 Lyon, Charles W. 34 years, 0 weeks
10 Burns, Hugh M. 34 years, 0 weeks
11 Alquist, Alfred E. 33 years, 48 weeks
12 Maloney, Thomas A. 32 years, 0 weeks
13 Donnelly, Hugh P. 32 years, 0 weeks
14 Russell, Newton R. 31 years, 48 weeks
15 Collier, John L. E. 31 years, 48 weeks
16 Brown, Willie L. 30 years, 50 weeks
17 Crittenden, Bradford S. 30 years, 0 weeks
18 Parkman, Harry L. 30 years, 0 weeks
19 Grunsky, Donald L. 29 years, 48 weeks
20 Beverly, Robert G. 29 years, 30 weeks
21 McBride, James J. 28 years, 24 weeks
22 Hawkins, Augustus F. 28 years, 0 weeks
23 Swing, Ralph E. 28 years, 0 weeks
24 Stiern, Walter W. 27 years, 48 weeks
25 Lanterman, Frank 27 years, 48 weeks

 

Jess Dorsey

Alternatively, you look at the total time that passed between when the elected official’s first day in office and their last. Probably not surprisingly, Dills appears at the top of this list, having a career that stretched over nearly 60 years (his service as a lawmaker was interrupted between 1949 and 1966 while he was serving as a Los Angeles County Municipal Court judge.

You’ll see some new names on this list, including Frederick Lux, who served in the Assembly in the 1860s and again 1903 and Jess R. Dorsey, who was first elected to the Assembly in 1902 and died in office in 1958.

25 Legislators with the Longest Careers:

Legislator Time Between Assuming to Leaving Office Time in Office
1 Dills, Ralph C. 59 years, 48 weeks 42.35
2 Dorsey, Jesse R. 55 years, 38 weeks 19.75
3 Dymally, Mervyn M. 45 years, 47 weeks 18.02
4 Coombs, Frank L. 43 years, 51 weeks 18
5 Clarke, George A. 43 years, 50 weeks 22
6 Godfrey, George B. 41 years, 51 weeks 2
7 Lux, Frederick 41 years, 50 weeks 4
8 Lyon, Charles W. 39 years, 51 weeks 34
9 Phelps, Timothy Guy 39 years, 50 weeks 7
10 Burton, John L. 39 years, 48 weeks 26.48
11 Vasconcellos, John 37 years, 48 weeks 37.92
12 Petris, Nicholas C. 37 years, 48 weeks 37.92
13 Collier, Randolph 37 years, 48 weeks 37.92
14 Thomas, Vincent 37 years, 47 weeks 37.92
15 Marks, Milton 37 years, 45 weeks 37.92
16 Slater, Herbert W. 36 years, 32 weeks 36.62
17 Treacy, Timothy E. 35 years, 51 weeks 3.83
18 Greene, Leroy F. 35 years, 47 weeks 35.92
19 Burns, Hugh M. 33 years, 51 weeks 34
20 Nielsen, Roy J. 33 years, 51 weeks 22
21 Durst, D. P. 33 years, 50 weeks 3
22 Bane, Tom 33 years, 48 weeks 24
23 Alquist, Alfred E. 33 years, 47 weeks 33.92
24 Johnson, Grove L. 33 years, 3 weeks 15
25 May, William B. 32 years, 50 weeks 11

Please note: the list above includes only legislators who have left office (and does not include Senator Jim Nielsen (who has served a total of 18.9 years in the California Legislature over a period of 37 years).

Legislator Age Statistics

Of the 800+ California state legislators elected to their first terms since 1950, here are some age-related statistics.

The big takeaways are…

  • Sebastian Ridley-Thomas was the second-youngest member in 60 years.
  • When Ian Calderon was elected, he was the youngest member since Tom McClintock in 1982.
  • Cindy Montañez was the youngest modern woman to serve in the California Legislature (but not the youngest ever).
  • Cheryl R. Brown was the oldest new member of the Legislature in more than a decade.

 

Youngest Age When Assuming Office

Legislator Gender First Year Age
1 McCarthy, John F. M 1950 25 years, 37 weeks
2 Lewis, John R. M 1981 26 years, 5 weeks
3 Ridley-Thomas, Sebastian M 2013 26 years, 17 weeks
4 McClintock, Tom M 1982 26 years, 22 weeks
5 Costa, Jim M 1978 26 years, 34 weeks
6 Imbrecht, Charles R. M 1976 26 years, 45 weeks
7 Quimby, John P. M 1963 26 years, 47 weeks
8 Calderon, Ian M 2012 27 years, 7 weeks
9 Ingalls, Walter M. M 1973 27 years, 12 weeks
10 Lempert, Ted M 1988 27 years, 25 weeks
11 Moretti, Bob M 1965 27 years, 31 weeks
12 Roberti, David A. M 1967 27 years, 40 weeks
13 Sebastiani, Don M 1980 27 years, 42 weeks
14 Torres, Art M 1974 28 years, 10 weeks
15 Carter, Douglas F. M 1973 28 years, 11 weeks
16 Cory, Kenneth M 1967 28 years, 14 weeks
17 Lehman, Richard M 1976 28 years, 21 weeks
18 Nolan, Patrick M 1978 28 years, 25 weeks
19 Rees, Thomas M. M 1955 28 years, 40 weeks
20 Karabian, Walter J. M 1967 28 years, 42 weeks
21 Woodruff, Paul A. M 1988 28 years, 42 weeks
22 Strickland, Tony M 1998 28 years, 43 weeks
23 Wilson, Bob M 1972 28 years, 44 weeks
24 Montañez, Cindy F 2002 28 years, 46 weeks
25 Hill, Frank M 1983 28 years, 47 weeks

 

Oldest Age When Assuming Office

Legislator Gender First Year Age
1 Soto, Nell F 1998 71 years, 25 weeks
2 Takasugi, Nao M 1992 69 years, 36 weeks
3 Lapthorne, George J. M 1960 69 years, 33 weeks
4 Brown, Cheryl R. F 2012 68 years, 43 weeks
5 Lowenthal, Bonnie F 2008 68 years, 41 weeks
6 Bradley, Willis W. M 1953 67 years, 27 weeks
7 Ammiano, Tom M 2008 66 years, 51 weeks
8 Quirk, Bill M 2012 66 years, 13 weeks
9 Margett, Bob M 1995 66 years, 4 weeks
10 Mullin, Gene M 2002 65 years, 33 weeks
11 Carter, Wilmer Amina F 2006 65 years, 21 weeks
12 Coto, Joe M 2004 65 years, 14 weeks
13 House, George M 1994 65 years, 2 weeks
14 Berry, Swift M 1953 64 years, 51 weeks
15 Patterson, Jim M 2012 64 years, 42 weeks
16 Morrissey, Jim M 1994 64 years, 30 weeks
17 Pacheco, Robert M 1998 64 years, 27 weeks
18 Johnson, Edward C. M 1951 64 years, 21 weeks
19 Lyon, Jr., LeRoy E. M 1953 64 years, 16 weeks
20 Weber, Shirley N. F 2012 64 years, 11 weeks
21 Allen, Michael M 2010 63 years, 49 weeks
22 Cook, Paul M 2006 63 years, 40 weeks
23 Goldberg, Jackie F 2000 63 years, 26 weeks
24 Scott, Jack M 1996 63 years, 15 weeks
25 Dutra, John M 1998 63 years, 8 weeks

 

Oldest Age When Leaving Office

Legislator Gender Last Year Age
1 Alquist, Alfred E. M 1996 88 years, 18 weeks
2 Dymally, Mervyn M. M 2008 82 years, 30 weeks
3 Soto, Nell F 2008 82 years, 24 weeks
4 Greene, Leroy F. M 1998 80 years, 44 weeks
5 Rosenthal, Herschel M 1998 80 years, 38 weeks
6 Margett, Bob M 2008 79 years, 30 weeks
7 Bane, Tom M 1992 78 years, 49 weeks
8 Craven, William A. M 1998 77 years, 23 weeks
9 Karnette, Betty F 2008 77 years, 12 weeks
10 Lanterman, Frank M 1978 77 years, 5 weeks
11 Sher, Byron M 2004 76 years, 43 weeks
12 Ayala, Ruben S. M 1998 76 years, 39 weeks
13 Takasugi, Nao M 1998 76 years, 35 weeks
14 Marks, Milton M 1996 76 years, 20 weeks
15 Johnson, Edward C. M 1962 76 years, 19 weeks
16 Davis, Ed M 1992 76 years, 3 weeks
17 Scott, Jack M 2008 75 years, 15 weeks
18 Belotti, Frank P. M 1972 74 years, 47 weeks
19 Lowenthal, Bonnie F 2014 74 years, 41 weeks
20 Schrade, Jack M 1976 74 years, 28 weeks
21 Knight, William J. “Pete” M 2004 74 years, 25 weeks
22 Vincent, Edward M 2008 74 years, 24 weeks
23 Killea, Lucy F 1996 74 years, 18 weeks
24 Papan, Louis J. M 2002 74 years, 18 weeks
25 Kelley, David G. M 2002 74 years, 8 weeks

It’s worth noting that there are eight incumbent legislators who (if they serve in their current house until they are forced out due to term limits) will appear on the list above.