Submitted to Patch by Redwood City Councilmember Ian Bain.
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I believe it’s time for district elections for San Mateo County Supervisors.
The key question for me is, how would district elections benefit the voters?
As I see it, the biggest benefit will be to bring the public closer to at least one member of the Board. Many people in our county don’t know who their board members are, or what they do. That puts them at a disadvantage in terms of deciding whether or not they should be elected or re-elected.
Because our County is so big - more than 300,000 people - candidates for the Board are spread thin as they campaign up and down the county. That does a disservice to the voters of the district that they’re elected to represent.
One argument that I’ve heard against making this change is that the current system allows us to hold all supervisors accountable, not just one. The reality, however, is that the public often only has one choice on the ballot. Once an incumbent, or even a popular challenger, starts rolling up endorsements and money, they end up going unchallenged. Additionally, the fact that no incumbent has lost a seat in more than 30 years bears that out.
My friends in Santa Clara County have told me that they are very happy with their system of electing supervisors by district. They feel connected to their supervisors, and feel that person really understands the issues of the district.
I think it’s time for San Mateo County to give that a try as well.
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