County Charter Review Committee to meet Weds, Jan 13 at 6pm

Letter

Posted by
Tue, January 12, 2010


San Mateo County is the only remaining county in California with at-large elections for Supervisors.  During the last 40 years only one Coastside resident has been elected to the Board of Supervisors.

The cost to run a county-wide campaign is much higher than a district campaign, and the expense of running such a large campaign drastically limits the candidate pool.

The Charter Review Committee will have public meetings in Redwood City starting this week and possibly running though June 30, 2010.

For more info on the Charter Review Committee please read the following:

Committee Members include:

  • Rosalie O’Mahoney and Cary Wiest (appointed by Supervisor Mark Church)
  • Sean Foote and Beverly Miller (appointed by Supervisor Rich Gordon)
  • Melanie Hildebrand and Ruth Nagler (appointed by Supervisor Carole Groom)
  • Dolores Canepa and Susan Brissenden Smith (appointed by Supervisor Adrienne Tissier)
  • Dave Pine (appointed by San Mateo County School Boards Association)
  • Dave Burow (appointed by Council of Cities)
  • Kathy Everitt (appointed by League of Women Voters)
  • Daniel S. Cruey (appointed by SamCEDA)
  • Shelley Kessler (appointed by San Mateo County Central Labor Council)
  • William R. Schulte (appointed by Sustainable San Mateo County)

*Three appointees to be announced: Two from Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson and one from the Youth Commission. Source: San Mateo County counsel

WHAT:  First meeting of San Mateo County’s charter review committee. The Meeting is Open to the Public
WHEN:  Wednesday, Jan. 13 6:00pm
WHERE:  Room 101, 455 County Center, in Redwood City.


Comment 1
Tue, January 12, 2010 12:02pm
Kevin Barron
All my comments

“During the last 40 years only one Coastside resident has been elected Supervisor.”

So that comes to roughly 2.6% of the time, a Coastsider is elected to a Supe position. Given the coastside’s population represents about 3% of the County, what’s the problem?

Regardless, I think at-large is doomed. The argument that each supervisor should have to campaign countywide so they can think countywide is folly. Why even have “representative” Districts then? Especially when only 20% of the outcome is influenced by their DIRECT constituents. It’s like France having a vote in the US Presidential elections to ensure the president thinks globally.

If/when at-large gets the heave-ho, the coastside gets to then vote for/within District 3, comprising roughly 15% of the electorate against the interests of Portola Valley, Woodside, San Carlos, Ahterton, etc. The only harmony I see for coastsiders is that much of the $$$ used to buy up the open space land around the coast comes from that 85% of District 3 that lives over/on the hill (cause it certainly isn’t coming from the coast). Will be interesting if/when, given how fractured the interest/demographics of District 3 are, compared to a District 5 for instance, which is compressed as pretty much Daly City and South San Francisco whose interests are much more in unison.

So although a district campaign is much cheaper, and we (the coastside) go from that 3% representation to 15% or so, keep in mind a system which inspires more DIRECTED campaign funds to DIRECT representation which includes one of the wealthiest demographics in the United States. In other words, prior to, why waste a donation on a coastal candidate whom brings a platform that 95% of the county could care less about and lose, where now you’ll have a candidate from El Granada vs. a candidate from Ahterton ... with their interests laid out and constituents in tow, who’s gonna get the most cash?

Comment 2
Tue, January 12, 2010 1:09pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

The fact that the Coastside is only 3% of the county’s population is the problem.  The Board of Supervisors affects day-to-day life here far more than it does the other 95% of the county that is incorporated.  People in, say, Daly City or San Mateo directly elect their own city councils and can serve on their own planning commissions. We’re dependent on the County. But the folks in DC and SM have far more influence on the Board of Supervisors than we do.  That’s not democracy as I understand it. We’re a colony of the Bayside.

You also assume that a district-elected board would have five members.  There’s no reason it couldn’t have nine or eleven.

Finally, no one’s saying that district elections will solve the county’s governance problems. District elections are necessary, but not sufficient.

>>That’s not democracy as I understand it. We’re a colony of the Bayside.

True, as we’re not in a local bicameral government, so populous representation rules.

>>You also assume that a district-elected board would have five members.  There’s no reason it couldn’t have nine or eleven.

Indeed, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t redistrict the whole state. Fat chance on either.

>>Finally, no one’s saying that district elections will solve the county’s governance problems. District elections are necessary, but not sufficient.

We’ll take what we can get, a la 3% vs 15% (and those were rough numbers).

But let it be understood amongst coastsiders that this how the roughly 32% of voters that aren’t Democrat/Liberal feel via ‘lack of representation’ here in San Mateo County. It’s an all-or-none system locally as well as nationally (a la electoral system).

Comment 4
Wed, January 13, 2010 7:15am
Barry Parr
All my comments

Winner-take-all is a big problem at all levels of government. Another example is that if you’re not in a “battleground” state, your vote in the presidential election is pretty meaningless.

Proportional representation is one solution to that problem. Of course, the last person who achieved prominence after making that suggestion was labeled a “quota queen” by the Republicans.

One-party rule in San Mateo County has not been good for the Democrats or their values.  I would support a system that would make races for county office more competitive and forces candidates to run for the vote of the public, rather than support of the party apparatus.

Comment 5
Wed, January 13, 2010 7:32am
jlundell
All my comments

It’s hard to imagine a worse setup than the one we have now, and I really don’t see district elections as all that much of an improvement.

Suppose we added enough districts that the coastside got its own representative (that’d take a lot of districts, yes). Even then, it’s not as if the coastside speaks with one voice; given that hard-fought coastside elections tend to be reasonably close, even then half the coastside would find itself unrepresented.

I’d prefer to see county-wide proportional representation, so that voters across the county could ally themselves to elect supervisors that really represented their views, preferably with a bigger board. Then at least we’d have a representative range of viewpoints on the board.