Positive changes ahead for San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

San Mateo County has a diversity problem on the Board of Supervisors, and although a recent change in how these officials are elected might fix it, authorities are right to be inspecting the districts for possible inequalities.

A lawsuit filed by six Peninsula residents highlighted a startling inequality: Asian and Hispanic residents comprise half the county’s population, but in 25 years only one Hispanic and no Asians have been elected to serve on the Board of Supervisors.

A large part of the problem might stem from the county’s former system of district seats being elected by all voters, which changed with a ballot measure passed last fall. Now each district supervisor will be elected by those who live within their district boundaries.

Many election watchers, and even the attorney who helped represent the six residents who sued, say district elections will likely help the diversity issue.

But as part of the lawsuit, which was settled in January, the county is convening a taskforce that will study district boundaries to make sure that they too are not likely to cause racial inequalities on the Board of Supervisors.

The county, through its voters, has moved toward a system that should to help bring a voice to underrepresented communities. And it is encouraging that the system is still being vetted for further inequalities. Now the county needs to make sure any further issues are dealt with posthaste. There should never be another 25 years of inequalities.

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