If you’re wondering about Measure P on the November ballot and why you’re not seeing organized campaigns, it’s because this proposal to implement term limits for San Benito County supervisors should largely sell itself.
I’m here to reinforce why—as a sitting supervisor—I personally support term limits for myself and others on the county board. I have been consistent on this topic since repeatedly supporting term limits as a candidate before the 2020 election.
The county board in June 2021 approved placing a measure on the next regularly scheduled ballot asking voters if they support a maximum of three terms, or 12 years, for San Benito County supervisors. The measure includes a stipulation that current supervisors would be limited to just two additional terms, preventing special treatment for those who initiated the ballot question.
So why are supervisor term limits a positive step forward?
Broadly, term limits lower the potential for supervisors to become career politicians in the role, lessen the influence of special interests, prevent established board members from gaining an advantage simply based on name recognition, establish a sense of urgency and encourage fresh ideas.
Discouraging county supervisors from becoming career politicians, for one, is especially important since it is now a full-time role that doesn’t realistically allow someone to hold down another full-time job. The last thing we want is to have well-known residents pursuing the supervisor role simply because of the pay and an ego boost.
Further, over time in these roles, it’s fair to say well-established politicians who are supremely secure in their positions are less likely to listen to everyday voters and more likely to favor special interests and friends who help to keep them in these seats. Name recognition is another undeniably strong advantage built over time in local politics—unless somebody does something overtly egregious enough to get a passive electorate’s negative attention—which creates an added layer of inherent support for incumbents at the polls.
On the plus side, term limits start a ticking clock that promotes a sense of urgency in the role to get things done, and gradual turnover means we would likely see a turnstile of fresh ideas over time.
To be fair in this analysis, what are the potential pitfalls? I can only think of one, and it doesn’t come close to outweighing the upside.
Yes, we could see that rare situation with a great local leader who seems irreplaceable and will have to eventually step down from the role. But I must reemphasize, 12 years is more than enough time to accomplish one’s goals.
As someone who feels positive about many areas of progress we have made so far in my first two years on the county board, I feel stronger than ever that term limits are the right course. After all, this role is a genuine grind that isn’t conducive to 16 or 20 or 24 years on the job.
In closing, we don’t want aspiring politicians to run for office in order to make longstanding careers at the expense of our community. We want inspiring leaders who are bold, feel a sense of urgency toward accomplishing goals, and have the humility to understand he or she is replaceable when the time comes to step aside.
We must have faith, and I do, that there are countless local residents who can lead and represent this wonderful community.
Kollin Kosmicki is District 2 supervisor for San Benito County.