Assemblyman Todd Gloria wants to make sure every candidate for county office faces voters in the fall. Right now, candidates for county office can win outright during a primary if they get a majority of the vote.
Gloria’s bill, AB 901, originally only applied to county supervisors, but now it covers the district attorney, sheriff, tax collector, members of the county Board of Education and the county clerk.
Even if Gloria’s bill becomes law, county voters would still have to approve an amendment to the county charter to change election law, unless the Board of Supervisors votes to change the charter itself. Critics of the current county election process, particularly Democrats who see their voters show up to the polls in the fall but not during the primary, say the current system doesn’t allow enough voters to be heard.
“I don’t know why we should have county supervisors selected differently than we do our mayor, our governor or our president,” Gloria said at a hearing this week, which passed out of the Elections and Redistricting Committee on a 5-2 vote.
Gloria got a helping hand during the hearing from Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and former state Sen. Steve Peace, who helped pass a similar citywide measure last year that requires the top two primary vote-getters to run in a November runoff.
The County Board of Supervisors has lobbied against Gloria’s bill. The county says the bill is unnecessary because the county can amend its own charter without a new state law. But an analysis by legislative staff disagrees and says, “Without this bill, it is unclear whether amendments to San Diego County’s election procedures will pass constitutional scrutiny.”