Three potential new state laws which would affect only the County of San Diego now have official opposition from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
A 5-0 Board of Supervisors vote March 21 directed the county’s chief administrative officer to: draft a letter expressing the county supervisors’ opposition to Assembly Bill 801, which would alter the redistricting process for the county supervisors; draft a letter expressing the county supervisors’ opposition to Assembly Bill 901, which would require a November election for candidates for supervisorial district seats regardless of whether one candidate receives a majority in the primary; and to include opposition in the county’s legislative program to any state legislative effort which would eliminate or minimize the Board of Supervisors representation on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) or North County Transit District (NCTD) boards.
“All three of them are misguided and not in the best interest of San Diego County,” said Supervisor Greg Cox.
“We’re calling out Sacramento for proposing these pieces of legislation,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “This discussion should take place right here at home, not 500 miles away.”
State Assemblyman Todd Gloria has introduced Assembly Bill 901, which would change the County of San Diego charter so that the final election for all Board of Supervisors seats would be in November regardless of whether a candidate received a majority in the primary. Currently if a candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the June primary he or she wins the seat outright and no runoff election is needed.
The City of San Diego amended its charter after enough verified petition signatures created an election last November and the voters passed the measure for an automatic runoff. The county’s voters currently also have that option, but no such effort has occurred.
A primary election and a runoff are considered separate elections for campaign contribution limits, so additional contributions to a candidate from a specific donor could be made for the general election.
When Leon Williams retired from the Board of Supervisors in 1994, Shirley Weber and current Supervisor Ron Roberts were among six candidates seeking the Fourth District seat. Weber placed third in the primary election, and Roberts defeated Peter Navarro in the runoff. Weber is now in the State Assembly and has introduced Assembly Bill 801, which would replace the current seven-member independent redistricting commission with a
14-member commission whose political party preferences are proportional to the county’s overall voter registration. The Board of Supervisors seats, as well as all other county-level offices, are non-partisan. Cox and Roberts are both registered Republicans but have been elected to represent districts in which registered Democrats are a plurality.
As part of the redistricting process after the 2010 census, the county supervisors sought legislation which would take effect for the 2021 redistricting process. State Senator Christine Kehoe introduced Senate Bill 1331, which shifted the redistricting authority from the county supervisors to a panel of retired judges. The legislation had the support of the county supervisors and was signed into law by Governor Brown in September 2012.
The NCTD board consists of nine members: city council members from each of the eight cities served by NCTD and Supervisor Bill Horn, who represents the unincorporated area within the NCTD boundaries. The SANDAG board consists of two members apiece from the San Diego City Council and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and one member apiece from each of the county’s other 17 incorporated cities.
At one time, only one county supervisor was on the SANDAG board and that was usually the year’s chair of the Board of Supervisors. The chairmanship of the Board of Supervisors rotates on an annual basis, so in many years the unincorporated communities had no representation on the SANDAG board and the lack of continuity for the county member was an impediment to SANDAG as a whole.
In January 2006 SANDAG recommended a structure to add a second county representative with one county supervisor representing one of the districts with most of the population in incorporated cities, and the other Board of Supervisors member representing one of the districts with a significant number of unincorporated communities. Because SANDAG was created by state legislation, a change in state law was required, but Kehoe introduced enabling legislation which passed the state legislature and was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger. SANDAG utilizes a weighted vote, so if the two county supervisors differ the county’s share of the vote is split and the second county member did not increase the county’s share of the vote.
“We worked a long time to get representation on the SANDAG board for the unincorporated communities,” said Cox.
The two bills and the potential change to SANDAG or NCTD representation would impact only San Diego County.
“The legislation is what I would call an assault on local control,” Jacob said. “Sacramento should stick to state issues. They have enough to do.”
“The business of the County of San Diego is working well,” Horn said.
“I hope we do everything we can to make sure these bills do not make it through the legislative process,” Cox said.