Opinion » Letters

Speak out against bad governance


The SLO County Board of Supervisors is moving forward with placing an ordinance on the ballot in November to make SLO County a charter county. The purpose of the charter would be to stipulate special elections to fill vacancies on the Board of Supervisors and for countywide elected offices such as district attorney, sheriff, and clerk-recorder.

The League of Women Voters opposes putting this ordinance on the ballot. We cannot support requiring a special election to fill vacancies in countywide elected offices. We believe these vacancies should be filled by the appointment of a qualified, experienced interim department head for the remainder of the term or until the next general election.

This ordinance is poorly written and will have unintended consequences in terms of cost and inefficient government operations. Vacancies are by their very nature unforeseen, and circumstances vary considerably. Requiring a special election in the case of every vacancy places a constraint on the ability of county government to use valuable resources to best serve the people of our county.

A special election to fill a vacancy in a countywide position would cost approximately $1 million. This is a waste of resources, both of money and of staff time. It is not fiscal responsibility and wise stewardship of taxpayers' money.

The ordinance stipulates that vacancies in these offices should be left vacant until a special election is held. This is not good governance. It does a disservice to the staff and to the people who are served by the department.

There are 14 charter counties in California, but no other county charter includes the provision that vacancies in countywide positions must be filled by special election, and for good reason—it is not good governance. SLO County would be the outlier here and for what purpose?

It has been argued that filling vacancies by appointment is time-consuming and costly. The appointment of the county clerk-recorder in 2021 is cited as a case in point. In this instance, the Board of Supervisors decided upon a process that wasn't necessary and wasn't required by state law. The resulting delays and costs followed directly from this ill-considered decision.

The board will hold a second hearing on the ordinance on May 17. We urge voters to review the ordinance, consider our arguments against it, and make their voices heard.

League of Women Voters

San Luis Obispo County

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