Bored with supervisors?

By Gordon Clanton
North Coastal columnist

Previously I explained why, although generally opposed to term limits, I may support a June ballot measure to limit county supervisors to two four-year terms. The same five white Republicans have been in power since 1984.

Structural conditions make it almost impossible for a challenger to take out an incumbent supervisor: The enormous cost of mounting a campaign, the huge financial advantage of incumbency, the undue influence of developers and other special interests and the general lack of voter attention to county government — which is why you and my mother are the only two people reading this column.

An irony: Although Republicans usually are more apt and Democrats somewhat less apt to support term-limits measures, the San Diego Republican Party opposes and the San Diego Democratic Party supports term limits for supervisors. I wonder why?

I predicted that two Republican incumbent supervisors would be reelected and term limits would be approved.

I should have followed the example of economist John Kenneth Galbraith who said, “I never make predictions, especially about the future.”

Like nature, politics abhors a vacuum. In the last days before the deadline, four candidates filed for Ron Roberts’ District 4 seat. The district, which is within the city limits of San Diego, has a substantial Democratic registration edge.

San Diego Unified School District Board of Education President Shelia Jackson, who had dropped out of the race, got back in.

Stephen Whitburn, a communications manager for the American Red Cross, entered the fray with the endorsements from Rep. Bob Filner, San Diego Councilwoman Donna Frye and the Sierra Club.

Whitburn and Jackson will be running for second place in June, hoping to force Roberts into a November run-off. Although Roberts enjoys a huge financial advantage, this race bears watching.

North County’s Bill Horn (District 5) faces four challengers. Although San Marcos engineer John Van Doorn lent his own campaign $15,000, none of the other contenders had filed a campaign update as of March 23. Horn, of course, will have unlimited developer money if he needs it.

Meanwhile, the supervisors voted 4-1 for a one-time reduction of each member’s $2 million annual slush fund, the so-called Neighborhood Reinvestment Program, to $1 million each. Guess which supe voted against even this inadequate CYA reform?

Update: I am glad to see that the Del Mar Union School District has taken school closures off the table and entered into talks with the city of Del Mar to extend the lease on the administrative offices at the Del Mar Shores park site.

Gordon Clanton teaches sociology at San Diego State University. He welcomes comments at

Related posts:

  1. Considering term limits for county supervisors
  2. School bored, school daze, school wars
  3. Donna Frye says she will not run for Board of Supervisors
  4. Jackson to run for supervisor against Roberts
  5. Return of North Coastal columnist on politics and the environment

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