Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA November 3, 1998 General
Measure E
Board of Supervisor term limits
County of Santa Clara

Charter Amendment

169,796 / 55.5% Yes votes ...... 136,247 / 44.5% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Infomation shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text
Shall the County of Santa Clara amend section 202 to limit the number of terms a member of the Board of Supervisors may serve to three terms, consisting of four years each?
Impartial Analysis from the County Counsel
This measure would amend section 202 of the County Charter by changing the limit on the number of terms members of the Board of Supervisors may serve from two successive four year terms to three successive four year terms. This amendment would preserve term limits while increasing the number of terms by one.

County CounselChief Deputy County Counsel

Suggest a link related to this contest
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Measure E Arguments Against Measure E
Measure E retains voter-approved term limits for elected County Supervisors, but sets a more reasonable three term limit in place of the current two term limit.

Measure E respects the will of the voters, and helps to ensure some stability and expertise on our County Board of Supervisors. The goal of Measure E is to prevent "political careerism" among Supervisors, while allowing adequate length of service to ensure a savvy, knowledgeable, effective Board working in the public interest.

The Board's work is wide-ranging and complex: a $2 billion annual budget, 13,500 County employees, 1.7 million County residents and responsibility for welfare, health care, jails, courts, fire, sheriff, roads, airports, and land use planning. Yet just last year, under our current system, three of our five Board members had zero experience on the Board, while the other two members had just two years experience.

A three term limit provides a little more time for new members of the Board to "learn the ropes," put their knowledge to work and then stick around long enough to hold the bureaucracy accountable.

And, remember, three terms is a maximum. Some Board members will retire or run for higher office before their time is up - resulting in a healthy mix of fresh perspectives and knowledgeable veterans.

Finally, without seniority and opportunity for leadership on regional boards and commissions, Santa Clara County is at a disadvantage in competing with other counties for our fair share of federal, state, and regional funding.

Clearly, term limits are here to stay. The question now is, will we have sensible term limits? Measure E is that sensible approach. It provides time to learn, blends experience with fresh perspectives, keeps the bureaucracy accountable, and helps ensure that our County receives its fair share of funding.

Vote Yes on Measure E.

Chairperson, Board of Supervisors

Rebuttal to Arguments Above
Measure E does NOT retain voter-approved term limits. In 1991 voters approved a two term limit for County Supervisors. This voter-approved two term limit is identical to term limits for the President of the United States, Governor of California, Mayor of San Jose, and the City Councils of San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, and Palo Alto. Measure E would give County Supervisors three terms. Vote NO.

Stability in County government is provided by professional civil servants, not elected politicians. The real goal of measure E is to protect the political careers of the current Board of Supervisors. Two current Supervisors have been in elected office for seventeen years, another for eight years, another for sixteen years, and another for twenty two years. They are career politicians. How long does it take to "learn the ropes?" Current Supervisors were elected when previous Supervisors moved on due to term limits. Now they want to stay and deny other citizens the opportunity to serve as Supervisors.

County government is indeed complex. That is why we have professional civil servants. The Board of Supervisors does not manage the County's 13,500 civil servants. They are managed, and held accountable by professionally trained and experienced public administrators. The five member Board of Supervisors manages fewer than ten civil servants.

The Supervisors appointed a Charter Review Committee. The Charter Review Committee said no to Measure E; you should too. Vote No on Measure E.

Chairman, Santa Clara County Term Limit CommitteeNeighborhoods Advocate
Past Chair, San Jose Chamber of CommerceCo-Chair, Coalition 2001
Vice Chair, Charter Review Committee
Don't be fooled, Vote NO on Measure E. County Supervisors currently have a Two-Term limit. Measure E would give them a Three-term limit.

Measure E is designed to deceive the Voters. It suggests that the Board of Supervisors is limiting the number of terms they can serve. In fact they are trying to increase the number of terms from two, to three. Supervisors already have a Two-Term limit. The Voters approved the Two-Term limit in 1991. Measure E gives the Supervisors an additional four year term.

The Board of Supervisors appointed a citizens committee to review the County Charter. That Committee voted overwhelmingly NOT to recommend a change in the TWO-TERM limit. In spite of it's own Committee's recommendation to the contrary, Supervisors want the Voters to grant them four more years in office.

The Board of Supervisors is using Measure E to expand their time in office from eight years, to twelve years. In 1991, the citizens of Santa Clara County gathered more than eighty five thousand signatures to place the Two-Term limit on the Ballot. Santa Clara County Voters approved the Two-Term limit by more than a 70% majority. Now, the Board of Supervisors is trying to trick the Voters into approving a Three-Term limit.

The Board of Supervisors believe they need more time in office to do their job. We say, they knew the job had a Two-Term limit when they took it.

The President of the United States has a Two-Term limit. The Governor of California has a Two-Term limit. The California State Senate has a Two-Term limit. Many local Mayors and City Council members have a Two-term limit. Two terms should be good enough for the Board of Supervisors as well. Vote No on Measure E.

Chairman, Santa ClaraCo-Chair, Coalition 2001

County Term Limit Committee

Past Chair, San Jose Chamber of CommerceNeighborhoods Advocate

Vice-Chair, Charter Review Committee

Rebuttal to Arguments Above
There's nothing hard to understand or "tricky" about Measure E. It's a three-term limit for the Board of Supervisors. In the first sentence of the first paragraph of our "Argument in Favor of Measure E", we go out of our way to say that Measure E "sets a more reasonable three-term limit in place of the current two-term limit." Nothing could be simpler or more straightforward.

Measure E's opponents inaccurately claim that the Charter Review Commission "voted overwhelmingly not to recommend a change in the two-term limit." Not true! In fact, on two separate occasions (5/13/98 and 7/8/98) a majority of the Charter Review Commission members who were present and voting, voted in favor of a three-term limit.

Yes, in 1992, the voters of Santa Clara County voted to establish term limits, but it was a simple "take it or leave it" proposition. No one was asked if they would prefer a one-, two-, three- or four-term limit. Now, after a little experience, voters are being given the choice to retain term limits, but more reasonably set at a three-term maximum.

And finally, let's remember there's no special magic about a two-term limit. Other cities and counties (including San Mateo County right next door) operate perfectly well with a three-term limit.

So, let's turn down the volume, stop all the rhetoric and focus again on the issue at hand: sensible term limits that make the system work. That's the proposal.

Vote Yes on Measure E.

Chairperson,Vice Chairperson,
Board of SupervisorsCharter Review Committee

Member, Charter Review CommitteeMember, Charter Review Committee

Charter Review Committee

Text for Measure E
New language to be added to the Charter appears in italics and language to be deleted is crossed over.

Amendments in Article II:

Section 202.1:. The term of office of supervisor is four years. The term of office commences at noon on the first Monday in January.

The elections for members of the Board of Supervisors shall be staggered so that the Supervisor for the Second, Third and Fifth Districts shall be elected in the same general election as the Presidential election, and Supervisor for the First and Fourth Districts shall be elected in the same general election as the Gubernatorial election.

A candidate is elected who receives a majority of all votes cast at the primary election. When no candidate is so elected, the two candidates who received the highest number of votes shall be the candidates at the November election.

No charge shall be imposed for a candidate statement of qualifications to be included in the voter's pamphlet. In all other respects the elections shall be conducted pursuant to general law.

No person elected or appointed as a Supervisor may serve as such for more than two three successive four year terms. Any person appointed to the office of Supervisor to complete in excess of two years of a four year term shall be deemed, for the purpose of this section, to have served one full term upon the expiration of that term. No person having served two three successive four year terms may serve as a Supervisor, either by election or appointment, until at least four years after the expiration of the second third successive term in office. Any Supervisor who resigns with less than two full years remaining until the expiration of the term shall be deemed, for the purpose of this Section, to have served a full four year. The above shall not disqualify any person from running for election to the Board of Supervisors for any term or terms which are not successive.
1Section 202: Amended and ratified by the Voters June 2, 1992; June 6, 1998.

Santa Clara Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback

Created: February 16, 1999 18:55
Smart Voter '98 <>
Copyright © 1998 League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.