A proposal is being developed to change The City’s term limits law for the Board of Supervisors that could keep four supervisors who would otherwise be termed out in less than two years in office longer.
The Board of Supervisors has gone head-to-head with Mayor Gavin Newsom on a number of issues and has drawn criticism from the business community for leaning too heavily on it as a revenue source. Supervisor Bevan Dufty, a Newsom ally, said he is fleshing out and shopping around the idea of a charter amendment for the November ballot that would allow members of the Board of Supervisors to serve three consecutive four-year terms. Current term limits allow for two consecutive four-year terms.
Dufty, who is termed out in 2011, said he will not seek another term should voters approve the ballot measure, but is proposing the change because he says it will make for better government. It would provide supervisors with more time to learn the inner workings of government and come up with innovative policies and end a system that “favors campaigning for another office over doing a good job,” according to Dufty.
Four of the progressive-leaning members of the Board of Supervisors are termed out in January 2009, while three other supervisors are termed out in January 2011, including Newsom’s most vocal critic, Supervisor Chris Daly.
Should Newsom win his re-election campaign in November, his second term could see changes that put more of his allies on the 11-member board. Changing the law to allow these termed-out supervisors to run again would dash that prospect.
Dufty acknowledged that some would view the amendment as a way to give the incumbent progressive-wing more time in office. But Dufty said his motivation was to have better local government, where voters, and not term limits, decide when someone should leave office. Political consultant Jim Stearns of Stearns Consulting would lead the charter amendment campaign, according to Dufty.
Political analyst David Latterman predicted voters would shoot down the measure because while they are generally supportive of their own district supervisor, they are less fond of the Board of Supervisors as an entity. He added, “We haven’t seen the voters wanting to give the Board of Supervisors more power.”
Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who is termed out in January 2009, said term limits, in general, have hurt the political world. “The whole concept of term limits has created this hamster-wheel of political instability from Sacramento down to the local level,” Peskin said. The proposal to increase term limits locally “is not about any one supervisor’s political desires,” Peskin added.
Latterman questioned the motivation for the measure. “The Board of Supervisors is a cushy, six-figure job. Why wouldn’t they want to keep it if they could?”
City supervisors who will be termed out in the next two elections:
Termed out Jan. 8, 2009
» District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick
» District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, current president of the Board of Supervisors
» District 9 Supervisor Tom Ammiano
» District 11 Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval
Termed out Jan. 8, 2011
» District 6 Supervisor Chris Daly
» District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty
» District 10 Supervisor Sophie Maxwell
— City Clerk’s Office