Making Democracy Work

County Charter and County Government

County Charter

We support a charter for the County of San Mateo which establishes the basic framework of county government, which is as free as possible of operational details, and which provides an integrated governmental structure in which lines of authority and responsibility are clearly drawn. The charter should be reviewed periodically.

We support a governmental structure for the County of San Mateo in which:

  • The Board of Supervisors, the District Attorney and other policy-making county officers are elected by the people.

  • The ultimate policy-making authority remains with the Board of Supervisors.

  • The Board of Supervisors appoints a County Manager, who has primary responsibility for county governmental operation and for policy recommendation and implementation.

  • The County manager appoints county officers whose positions are administrative, subject to ratification by the Board of Supervisors.

We support measures to insure an orderly, open and fair process for filling vacancies in county elective positions which occur between regularly scheduled elections.

  • Interim vacancies on the Board of Supervisors should be filled by direct election.

  • Vacancies occurring in other county elected positions may be filled through appointment by the Board of Supervisors.

  • If less than six months remain in the term, positions should be left vacant until the next regularly scheduled election.

  • Measures which reduce the cost of special elections and increase voter participation, such as mail-in ballots and electronic voting should be implemented.

(1975, revised 1988, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2008 2009)

County Government

I. Selection of Supervisors

We support procedures to ensure an open and responsive process of selecting supervisors in San Mateo County.

  • Limitation on over-all spending in county campaigns.

  • County financed mailing of candidates' biographies and statements with the ballot booklet.

  • Continued opposition to using the term "incumbent" on the ballot.

II. Long-range Planning

We support a process in which the Board of Supervisors takes responsibility for settinggoals, priorities, and long-range planning for county needs. Public participation in this process should be encouraged.

III. County Boards and Commissions

We support procedures for appointment to county boards and commissions which promote responsible and effective citizen input to government in accordance with state law.

  • Public notice of vacancies should be made well in advance of appointment date.

  • Standardized application forms and interviews should be used.

  • Specific qualifications should not be required to serve on boards and commissions other than residency, citizenship, and voter registration.

  • Members should be chosen so that the boards and commissions represent a broad cross section of the community.

  • Members should be chosen on the basis of their ability to evaluate the issues and to come to decisions, and their willingness to give the time needed to serve.

  • Members should be legally limited to three consecutive terms of service on a board or commission.

  • Procedures should be established to terminate the service of members who do not attend meetings on a regular basis.

IV. County Superintendent of Schools

We support the elected County Board of Education appointing the County Superintendent of Schools.

(1974,revised 1988, 1996, 2008)

Special Districts

We support effective coordination of services and planning among special districts and other governmental units in San Mateo County and of reduction of the number of autonomous special districts, where such reduction increases efficiency and facilitates citizen scrutiny of performance or where functions are provided by existing agencies.

(LWVSSMC, 1964; adopted by concurrence 1994)