LOS ANGELES – A measure that would increase the number of elected county supervisors from five to seven in counties with more than 2 million residents — such as Los Angeles — was approved Tuesday by a Senate committee.
The proposed Senate Constitutional Amendment 8, approved by the Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee, will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee. It will need to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and then by a majority of voters during the November 2016 statewide general election.
Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, who authored the measure, said the change would create a more representative and responsive county government.
Sen. Sharon Runner, R-Antelope Valley, said she typically opposes government expansion, but she co-authored the amendment.
“A mountain range and over 60 miles of driving separate the communities I represent in northern Los Angeles county from the main county offices. Increasing local representation for our area is necessary,” Runner said.
The largest California counties include Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino.
The five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors represent 10.4 million residents spread out over more than 4,000 square miles.
In 1992 and 2000, bids to increase the number of Los Angeles County supervisorial seats from five to nine were rejected by voters.
Mendoza pointed to a lack of diversity and Latino representation in particular, noting that only two of 25 board members in the largest California counties are Latino. In Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, Latinos make up almost half of the population, while in San Diego and Orange counties, the Latino population is nearly one-third of the total.
“Expanding the number of supervisorial seats … will provide the opportunity for these bodies to be more reflective of the people they represent and serve,” Mendoza said.
Calling the proposal non-partisan, Mendoza said increasing the number of seats would also increase the number of candidates competing to serve.
Supervisors Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich will both term out in 2016.
The race to replace Antonovich in the Fifth District has already drawn seven candidates, while three contenders are looking to take Knabe’s Fourth District seat.
Knabe has said increasing the number of board seats would add bureaucracy and increase taxpayer costs. Mendoza’s proposal requires that costs remain the same, something Knabe called unrealistic.
“I really see no need for more bureaucracy,” Knabe told the Daily News in May. “People have asked me for more libraries, more sheriffs, more firefighters. No one has ever asked me for more politicians.”