SLO County supervisors want voters to elect officials

April 10, 2022

By KAREN VELIE

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to move ahead with plans to require voters to elect replacements for officials who leave midterm. Currently, these empty positions are filled by the governor or a board of supervisor appointment.

Supervisors John Peschong, Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton voted to allow the voters to decide in November if the county will remain a general law county governed by the California Government Code or become a charter county with one unique law, a mandate to have the voters elect all office holders.

According to the proposed charter, if an elected official leaves office more than a year before the next election, the county will call for a special election within 30 days. If it is less than 365 days before the next election, the seat will remain unfilled until that election.

In the case of a vacancy in the board of supervisors, the seat will remain empty until the next election. For all other elected officials, the second in command will take over until the voters elect a replacement.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson voiced concerns about the cost of a special election, estimated at between $354,000 and $1 million, and issues with a lack of board of supervisor representation during extended vacancies.

“I think there are multiple problems keeping an important seat vacant for up to a year,” Gibson said. “It is not in the interest of our residents and not in the interest of our organization.”

Supervisor Arnold argued that in the past, the governor has taken months to fill an empty board seat.

In 2013, District 4 Supervisor Paul Teixeira died while in office. Approximately four months later, the governor appointed Democrat Caren Ray to represent the primarily Republican district. At the next election, Ray lost the District 4 seat to Lynn Compton, a Republican.

Supervisor Adam Hill passed away in Aug. 2020. Approximately four months later, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Dawn Ortiz-Legg to fill the seat

Several public speakers voiced concerns that every incoming board could rewrite the county charter leading to costly ballot measures.

Arnold recommended adding safeguards, such as requiring a four-fifths vote of the board to bring proposed amendments to the voters.

Gibson then made a motion to include a requirement in the charter for an independent redistricting commission, repeating his claim that the latest district map was gerrymandered.

Arnold again disagreed, saying supervisors are tasked with redistricting and she does not want to pass that responsibility off to a group of people who were not elected by their constituents.

The board voted 3-2 against Gibson’s motion to require a redistricting commission, with Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg dissenting.

The SLO County Board of Supervisors then voted 3-2 to have county staff look into the four-fifth amendment requirement and to bring the proposed charter ballot measure back for a vote on May 17, with supervisors Gibson and Ortiz-Legg dissenting.


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Adam Trask

Seems like a solution in search of a problem. So what if the Board is short one member for a few months. County staff does all of the work anyway. I’m sure Adam Hill’s staff was still working after he died.


Simply another power grab by the Board’s majority. That’s why elections matter and I would urge voters in the 4th District to vote out Ms. Compton and, in two years, do the same in the 5th District with Ms. Arnold.


Gramelin

Really? Power grab? Let the people decide is a Power grab??


unusualsuspect

Yeah, no one wants a Gavin Newsom appointee lol


jdchem

Amusing when fiscal liberals become fiscally conservative when a ballot is involved.


commonsenseguy

I agree. Flip-floppers at their best, and never held accountable.


Jorge Estrada

This is a loud and clear decision to support local control by the voter’s choice. The “I WILL DECIDE FOR YOU” mentality failed.


kayaknut

It’s clear Gibson and Legg don’t think the local voters are smart enough to make these decisions for the county.


commonsenseguy

It doesn’t resonate with Brucey boy, nor does he care about fairness to all.


commonsenseguy

So once again Gibson shows his true colors. He’s and outright liar! I listened to his bloviating on KVEC the other day with his buddy Davey. He was misleading and dishonest for the majority of his answers. Now he followed it up with double talk on this recent vote. He’s spreading misinformation while accusing others who have questions for of the same. What a weasel. Not worthy of the position he holds with his narrow-minded approach on all things.


I also noticed that Davey still doesn’t have and tolerance for callers who question those he supports, such as Gibson with his condescending comments and tone of voice when they call in on his show. Once again, Davey’s true colors show as well. Defend and deflect as needed to protect those they want in office.