More than enough signatures have been gathered to place a voter initiative on the November ballot asking whether to place term limits on members of the county Board of Supervisors, according to a determination made this week by the county’s top elections official.
County Registrar of Voters Mary Bedard presented a letter to the board Tuesday confirming 21,951 valid signatures were collected in favor of placing the initiative on the Nov. 8 general election. The total surpassed the minimum threshold to qualify for the ballot by 1,613 names, a margin of almost 8 percent.
The initiative calls for limiting board members to two terms of four years each. It was backed by a coalition that included community organizers and labor unions, some of which were frustrated at drawn-out contract negotiations with the county.
A proponent of the measure, retired county employee Sonja Bennett, said Wednesday she sees support for the measure coming from across the political spectrum, driven buy a shared desire for “new and bold ideas so we can have change.”
“We need better public services,” Bennett said. “We need healthy communities.”
None of the five supervisors on the county board responded to requests for comment Wednesday.
Supervisors were presented with two choices Tuesday: Submit the initiative to voters, unedited, for November’s election — or refer it to the County Counsel’s Office for a report that would then be presented to voters, as-is, on the ballot.
The board chose the latter option, asking for information about the initiative that may be relevant or of interest to board members.
Assistant County Counsel Kendra L. Graham said by email Wednesday the office is now working to determine “what those matters may be” so that it can provide an appropriate response to the board. The report’s deadline is 30 days from Tuesday’s vote.
Signatures gathered by the initiative’s organizers totaled 29,885 when they were presented to the county in mid-March. Bedard certified that 28,226 of the signatures were verified, and of those, 6,275 were determined to be insufficient. Among those deemed insufficient, 239 were ruled to have been duplicates.
Sandy Moreno, a local home-care provider who supports the initiative and showed up for Tuesday’s board meeting, said Wednesday she views the supervisors’ request for a report as delaying the inevitable. She said she thinks none of the board members were happy about the prospect of term limits, even as two of the five — Supervisors Mike Maggard and Leticia Perez — have announced plans to step down from the board.
One reason for her support of the initiative, Moreno said, was that people tend to become complacent over time.
“It’s like, whenever you get a new job, you get in there and you have ideas and you’re motivated and so on,” she said, “and I think some of that, as time goes on, kind of goes away.”