Supervisors reject vote on district elections


Posted by on Tue, July 13, 2010

April Vargas is a candidate for the Board of Supervisors.

At their July 13 meeting, the Board of Supervisors rejected San Mateo County joining the other 57 California counties in having district elections.  Rich Gordon was the sole vote to put the issue on the upcoming November ballot. It was recommended by the County’s Charter Review Committee that voters decide whether San Mateo County should move from antiquated county-wide elections to district elections that would conform with the Voting Rights Act of 2001.

It is an outrage that the Board of Supervisors would not allow the voters to decide the issue of district elections.  By their action today, they are exposing the County to a likely lawsuit brought by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. 

Counties, cities, school districts and special districts throughout California have instituted district elections to conform with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.  At the forefront of this change is the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights which has won court decisions up and down the state in support of the Voting Rights Act.

District elections allow minority voters to have a greater influence on electoral outcomes by localizing the contests within smaller geographical areas.

The Board’s decision today ignores the Voting Rights Act, refuses to allow a vote of the people and persists in making it difficult for Coastsiders to elect a local representative. It’s time to end this insiders game and elect a new voice on the Board of Supervisors.

“Arrogance” is the word that comes to mind, watching the supes sitting there congratulating themselves on how well they represent all of us.

A proportional representation system would be fairer and more democratic than single-member districts, but the current at-large system is the worst.

It’s outrageous that the supervisors not only ignored recommendations of an impartial panel, but won’t even allow the electorate to weigh in on this.  Do we know how each of them voted?  I would like those of us who are offended by this imperial grab of our rights to start a letter writing campaign at the very least, to let the offending supervisors know how we feel.

Rich Gordon voted for putting district elections on the ballot. The other four supervisors voted to retain the current system, by which they were elected.

The charter review folks weren’t exactly impartial—they had definite views on the question, not so far removed from the supes. But they had the sense to recommend a popular vote anyway.

Perhaps we should look at it from the supes’ point of view, though: how could any system that had the good sense to anoint these noble fellows our leaders be anything less that ideal?

I personally attended several of the public workshops on the District At-Large Election issue (San Mateo County CHARTER REVIEW) and you could feel the squirming of the POWER MONGERS in the room - not wanting to give up their ability to APPOINT in the case of a Supervisoral vacancy -as in Carol Groom’s case - they want to keep the status quo (by keeping the power on their side of the hill) because as long as they do, they can continue to disenfranchise the voters in the unincorporated areas, such as the MidCoast who only may have ONE voice on the 5 member Board.
    Forgetting that the other areas have elected officials to lobby on their behalf in the way of Mayors and City Council members, WE HAVE NO ONE BUT RICH GORDON to speak for us on our issues, some members of the CRC such as Melanie Hildebrand, were not in favor of at-large elections.
    In spite of the reccomendations, the Bd. of Sups, voted to maintain the status quo andd thereby their own POWER over the rights of voters.

Jonathan makes a good point.

It’s easy to say this is about power (it is), but it’s also true that the Supervisors no doubt believe in their own sagacity.

I’m sure they believe that the system that created them does a better job of balancing the competing interests in a county as large and diverse as San Mateo than (say) actual democracy.

I sure hope that you’re kidding!

They want to keep the status quo, so they don’t have to give any representation to anyone other than their powerful that-side-of-the-hill influenece peddlers.

I’m deadly serious.

July 22 is the deadline for public comment to SMCTA re widening segment of Highway 1 in Pacifica: