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San Diego County Supervisor Term Limits, Measure B (June 2010)

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A Term Limits for San Diego County Supervisors ballot measure was on the June 8, 2010 ballot in San Diego County, where it was approved.[1]

Under Measure B, members of the San Diego Board of Supervisors are limited to serving two four-year terms.[2] The limits on terms will not be retroactive. This means that current supervisors can continue to run for re-election and hold seats on the Board of Supervisors, as long as they wish to and as long as voters keep re-electing them.[3]

SEIU Local 221, the union that represents San Diego County employees, helped qualify the measure for the ballot.[1]

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors was a 5-member board in 2010. All of the members of the board were Republicans at the time of the Measure B approval. There had been no new members on the board in 15 years.[4]

Current members of the board include Bill Horn, Ron Roberts, Dianne Jacob, Pam Slater-Price and Greg Cox. Horn and Roberts will be able to serve on the board for eight more years if the term limits measure passes. Jacob, Slater-Price and Cox will be able to serve for 10 more years.[4]

With the approval of Measure B, San Diego becomes the 7th county -- out of 58 California counties -- to impose term limits on its county supervisors.[5]

Election results

Measure B
Approveda Yes 336,416 68.27%
These final, certified results are from the Sand Diego County elections office.


Sharon-Frances Moore, the president of SEIU Local 221, said, "We need new leaders with new ideas to improve the quality of life in San Diego County -- leaders who are not focused on their own issues and benefits."[1]

Other arguments made on behalf of Measure B included:

  • "This will simply level the playing field and allow more qualified candidates to enter the race and engage in a healthy policy debate, something that's missing now."[6]
  • "This is aimed more at ensuring periodic vacancies to generate the kind of real discussion about county policy and direction that has been absent in recent years."[6]

On a statewide level, SEIU has been a major donor to several efforts to try to void or lighten the state's term limits on state legislators.[3]



San Diego Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Dianne Jacob is opposed to term limits for county supervisors. She said, "Term limits reflect the philosophy that voters are too stupid to decide for themselves when to turn an under-performing official out of office. The hapless and ineffective California Legislature is a prime example of the terrible consequences of term limits."[1]

San Diego County's Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard sent an email to about 1,250 recipients attacking the term limits measure. He wrote, "Term limits is a fools errand that only helps perpetuate inexperience, mediocrity and special interest control. … Let’s do things the old-fashioned way and just trust the voters to decide whom they want to represent them."[7] Public employees are not allowed to use public resources to support or oppose ballot measures and, as a result, Ekard has been criticized for sending the missive. He, however, told a local newspaper he believes he did nothing wrong.[7]

The editorial board of the North County Times opposed Measure B, saying, "Term limits are not the panacea for discomfort with representatives. California's experience is daily proof of that. If anything, by forcing turnover this way, governments deliberately discard institutional memory and expertise. Is the Legislature any better for it? We doubt it. Additionally, term limits generally mean staffers (read that as non-elected employees) and career government employees become more influential ---- and we are not convinced that is healthy, either."[8]

Arguments against

Arguments made against Measure B included:

  • "We see it as an unnecessary and unjust attempt by the union to get its foot in the door of the Board of the Supervisors. Take them or leave them, the current board has done a good job, and there is just no need to impose this sort of thing."[6]
  • "The best approach is to look at the performance of those in office and make a decision based on that."[6]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Shall the San Diego County Charter be amended to impose a limit of two terms for persons serving on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors?[9][10]

County term limits

See also: Term limits in California

Six counties in California limit the terms of county supervisors:

• In Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Mateo, supervisors are limited to three four-year terms.

• In Orange, San Francisco and San Joaquin, supervisors are limited to two four-year terms.[3]

Path to the ballot

Supporters turned in 118% of the 77,837 signatures required to qualify a county-wide measure for the ballot.[2]

Election officials certified that sufficient signatures had been turned in. As a result, the Board of Supervisors had two choices:

  • Authorize placement of the term limits proposal on the June 8, 2010 ballot.
  • Order the development of an "impact report" on the measure, which would be due in early February, and make a decision after that.[11]

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