Are term limits in the Alameda County Board of Supervisors’ future?

Alameda County Supervisors Scott Haggerty and
Richard Valle during a board meeting in 2013.
PHOTO/Shane Bonda

ALCO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS | In the East Bay, a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors is the closest thing to a lifetime appointment on the US Supreme Court. An incumbent county supervisor has not lost a seat in 23 years, and a local group is seeking to end that trend with a countywide ballot initiative to limit supervisors to three, four-year terms.

A notice of intention for the potential referendum was accepted by the Alameda County Registrar’s Office on Thursday. The county counsel must evaluate the proposed initiative and produce a title and ballot summary within the next fifteen days, according to the registrar’s office.

The initiative’s supporters hope it receives approval for voter’s consideration in time for the June 2016 primary election. But, before then, the county registrar’s office says supporters will need to gather more than 30,000 valid signatures for inclusion on the ballot. The number is based on 20 percent of the votes cast in Alameda County during the most recent gubernatorial contest.

Longtime Castro Valley resident Frank Mellon said the impetus for the countywide ballot initiative is clear: County residents are dissatisfied with the board on a number of issues, including the amount of taxpayers’ money it spends on sports instead of funding safety net services, along with the failing state of the county’s healthcare delivery services.

“The common denominator is you have supervisors that are there forever,” said Mellon, who is an elected member of the East Bay Municipal Utilities District. Mellon said his role in the county term limits initiative is independent of his duties at East Bay MUD where he has served as a director since 1995.

The county applies term limits on its own appointed board and commissions, said Mellon. “If it’s good enough for boards and commissions, why isn’t it good enough for the board of supervisors?”

The proposed referendum would amend the county charter to limit service for members of the board of supervisors to twelve years. Under the proposed charter amendment, three of the five county supervisors would be termed out of office…

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