News

Tuesday: County may let voters choose 'at large' or 'by district' elections for supervisors

Board of Supervisors to discuss on June 26

By Sandy Brundage

Almanac Staff Writer

Will the third time be the charm? San Mateo County voters may get to vote again on whether to hold "at large" or "by district" elections for the county Board of Supervisors, 32 years after the second time the issue made it to a ballot -- and lost again.

San Mateo is the only county in California where candidates must campaign county-wide, not just in the district they want to represent. This year a seat is open for District 4, which includes Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, and two unincorporated communities, as Supervisor Rose Jacobs Gibson terms out after 12 years.

The county currently faces a lawsuit over the issue. "Satorre et al. vs. San Mateo County Board of Supervisors" claims that at-large elections violate minority rights by leading to underrepresentation on the board. The case is scheduled for trial on Aug. 20.

The two remaining candidates for District 4 -- Shelly Masur and Warren Slocum -- favor letting voters decide the form of election. "I have said consistently that the people should have a chance to vote on the issue of district vs. at large elections. Personally I support the idea of district elections for supervisors -- my reasons are that the current system has a high cost barrier for those that might want to run -- and district elections might encourage more people to run for public office," Mr. Slocum told the Almanac.

The Board of Supervisors will discuss whether to let voters decide during its meeting on Tuesday, June 26. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at 400 County Center in Redwood City.

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