07/18/2012 by Cheryl Getuiza

Term limits: How long is too long?

California has 58 counties. Of those, only 10 county governments have boards of supervisors with term limits. Five of those limit supervisors to three terms, the other five have two-term limits.

If you had a say on how long your elected leader served, would you term the official out at eight years or 12 years? Voters in the San Joaquin valley may have a chance to decide this coming November.

The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to move toward extending term limits for seats on the board from two terms to three.

Back in 1998, voters approved two-four year term limits for the board via Measure A. 

Supervisors in favor of the increased term limit believe it will give elected leaders more time to develop projects and implement laws beneficial to the area.

Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller voted for the original term limits but has since changed his mind. He told the Recordnet, “the county deals with complex and long-term issues, from water and Delta issues, to the San Joaquin General Hospital and federal health care reform, as well as the county's adapting to changes receiving a bigger share of the state's prison population.”  

One more term would be enough time to be“effective and able to play a part in the long process as legislation.” 

The lone opposing vote came from Supervisor Leroy Ornellas. "I'm not a part of this scheme,” he told the Recordnet.

Stockton resident Dean Andal has held state and local seats. He too, disagrees with a three terms.

“Incumbents have a clear advantage when it comes to raising the money needed to stay in office. Term limits clear the way for new blood, like the current members of the board,” he said. 

"I think current county supervisors have done a pretty good job," Andal said. "They're my evidence that it works."

The board will revisit the issue and make a final decision on whether to put it on the ballot before the August 10 deadline.

We will be keeping a close eye on this issue as well as others like this. 

At California Forward we believe local governments are closer to the communities they serve, so people know better what they are doing. No matter how long an elected is in office, we must ensure they are held accountable for all decisions that are made.

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