December 20, 2008

Are District Elections Coming to San Mateo County?

Are district elections coming soon to San Mateo County? Well, that question is being asked in some circles.

San Mateo County has had at-large (countywide) elections for Board of Supervisors for a very long time. Here a candidate must live and run from one of five supervisorial districts but all the voters of the county get to vote on her candidacy. Other jurisdictions use district elections for electing members to the Board of Supervisors. Under that approach a candidate runs from a specific district and is voted on by only the registered voters of that district.

From time-to-time the idea of district elections has come up in our county but the movement never went anywhere. And while there are pro and con arguments on the issue, the one that has always won out is the argument that running countywide guarantees a broader view of policies issues since theoricically all county voters are constitutents.

Sue Lempert, former San Mateo City Councilmember recently wrote in The Daily Journal that, "...we may see a dramatic change in how we elected these officials (board members) in the future. The present system as it has evolved discourages those who may not yet enjoy the support of the local labor and business establishment. But change is in the air. More people are voting. More people are interested in running for office, especially at the local leve. New constituencies feel they are not adequately represented in top county posts. By the time there is the next round of supervisor elections in 2012l, I would not be surprised if we were voting by district rather than countywide."

Read more on this topic at The Daily Journal and a post on the Peninsula Politics Blog.

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