Friday, May 7, 2010

Electing Supervisors in San Mateo County - the system

Continuing from

What does a county supervisor do? One member of the San Mateo County Charter Review Committee (4/21/10) referred to the County Board of Supervisors as a "Council". A city has a council, so the Board of Supervisors is a county council, and therefore as an oversight body would presides over county agencies, cities. unincorporated county, county issues, improvement and the budget. Here's their link

The Charter. San Mateo county is organized under California Constitution, local government, article 11, section 4, which allows Supervisors to be elected though one of the following systems: 1) at large, 2) by region, or 3) at large with regional representation. The existing form of representation is 3) at large with regional representation. The exact words:

County charters shall provide for: a) A governing body of 5 or more members, elected (1) by district
or, (2) at large, or (3) at large, with a requirement that they reside in a district. Charter counties are subject to statutes that relate to apportioning population of governing body districts.

The County Board of Supervisors appointment Charter Review Committee members consists of 17 members: 2 each chosen the 5 Supervisors with their region; 1 person each is chosen from the following 7 organizations: the Council of Cities, County School Boards Association, League of Women Voters, Central Labor Council, SamCEDA, Sustainable San Mateo County, and Youth Commission. This series of Charter Review Committee meeting must occur within 8 years of the prior series of meetings.

Got 2 hours, 10 minutes? You might want to view the a video of the 4/21/10 meeting

The 2010 Charter Review Committee (4/21/10) voted 11-4 to recommended to the Board of Supervisors placing the alternative election choice of "by region" on the ballot to "validate or modify" the current "at large with regional representation" system. Their additional comment to the Board of Supervisors was that in their opinion the existing system works well, but there has not been a challenged to the existing Charter election system for 30 years, and voters should be given the choice.

Two prior challenges to the "at large with regioinal representation" occurred, one in 1978, the other in 1980, both failed. In discussion there was agreement that no system is perfect, and some problems exist outside Charter jurisdiction, namely the need for election finance reform, proportional representation, census restructuring of districts, transparency. A reference to Grand Jury concerns about discrimination was made but deemed by rare by this committee.

Posted by Kathy Meeh

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