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Voters to decide on term limits for San Benito supervisors

Board to place question on 2022 general election ballot

San Benito County’s voters will get to decide if the elected members of the board of supervisors should be subject to term limits.

The supervisors voted 4-0 at the June 8 meeting to introduce an ordinance to place the question on an upcoming ballot—likely in the Nov. 8, 2022 general election. The board will meet again June 22 to formally adopt the ordinance, which requires voter approval before Jan. 1, 2023.

Specifically, if approved by the voters, the local term limits ordinance would prohibit a candidate from serving more than three four-year terms on the board of supervisors throughout their lifetime. Candidates who have already served a four-year term would be limited to no more than two additional terms.

Any individual who has served in the office of county supervisor for at least one year—whether by appointment or election—will be considered as having served a full term, under the language of the ordinance.

There are currently no term limits for the five San Benito County Supervisor positions. 

The future ballot question has already received a jolt of support from all four current supervisors, who said June 8 that they are in favor of term limits on their office.

Supervisors Kollin Kosmicki and Bea Gonzales sat on a board committee that researched and drafted the ordinance with county staff.

Kosmicki said June 8 that “the pros far outweigh the cons” of term limits. He said the intent is to prevent the recurrence of elected officials who become “career politicians” with dubious motives.

“We (as elected officials) should have goals, we should get in and accomplish those goals, and we should get out and let somebody else get in with fresh ideas,” Kosmicki said.

A “Findings and Declarations” sheet attached to the county term limits ordinance says, “(A) maximum of three terms serves the interests of both continuity and experience in office, with the need to encourage the most qualified and talented candidates to run for office.”

The sheet also argues that term limits “encourage diversity among the members” of the board, provide voters with more choices and “encourage members to maximize their time in office to accomplish their goals and policies” during their limited terms.

At least eight counties in California have term limits for their elected supervisors, according to a San Benito County staff report. But the details of these term limits are not the same as those proposed locally.

San Francisco, Orange and El Dorado counties limit their supervisors to two four-year terms “with a requirement that an individual wait a full four-year term before seeking election to the Board again, and San Joaquin County limits their supervisors to two four year-terms, and Santa Clara County limits their supervisors to three four-year terms with a requirement that an individual must wait a full four-year term before seeking election to the board again,” says the report, which cites a 2007 study from the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

At the June 22 meeting, the San Benito supervisors will consider formally directing county election officials to place the term limits ordinance on the November 2022 ballot.