Since 1998, no one has been allowed to serve on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors for more than two four-year terms. However, a majority of the current board wants to change that.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 last week to place a measure on the November ballot asking voters to allow supervisors to serve a third term.
In the Lodi area, passage of the measure would mean that Supervisor Ken Vogel, whose second term expires in 2014, would be allowed to seek re-election. Under the current ordinance, Vogel would be required to leave the Board of Supervisors at the end of 2014.
The ballot measure also includes the San Joaquin County Board of Education.
Supervisor Larry Ruhstaller said that three terms are better than two because it takes a lot of time to get up to speed on the complex issues the board faces. Ruhstaller cited the continuity that he and Vogel provide in representing the county on Delta water issues and the proposed Peripheral Canal, which would ship water from Northern California to Southern California and the southern San Joaquin Valley.
"On our water issues, you don't learn this overnight," Ruhstaller said. "Ken and I have taken it on."
Supervisors need extra time to understand the complex issues, Ruhstaller said, but it takes time to learn who the players throughout California are. He and Vogel would have to orient two new supervisors about Delta and Peripheral Canal water issues, he added.
"Just learning the acronyms will blow your mind," he added.
Vogel was unavailable for comment Monday and Tuesday. Bestolarides deferred his comments to Ruhstaller.
Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, who will complete his second and final term this year, strongly opposes revising the term limits ordinance. It doesn't require a third term to come up to speed on issues the county faces, he said.
"This isn't brain surgery," Ornellas said, regarding the need for new supervisors to get acclimated to their job. "It should take six months — maybe four (or) three?"
Ornellas said he would have supported the three-term limit if it excluded the five existing supervisors and forced them to serve only two terms. He also doesn't like county taxpayers footing the bill for the ballot measure, which county Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman estimates to be $100,000 to $135,000.
"I don't think it's acceptable for the taxpayers to pay for it," Ornellas said.
Supervisors earn an estimated $130,000 per year in salary and benefits.
Former Lodi Mayor Jack Sieglock, who served eight years on the Board of Supervisors before being termed out in 2006, said he supports term limits of three four-year terms for the Board of Supervisors and all elected offices from the federal government to cities and districts with a population of 50,000 or more.
"It's good to have new blood," Sieglock said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.