Andreas Borgeas says he thinks he and his fellow Fresno County supervisors should be held to a three-term limit, and he wants voters to weigh in on the matter next June.
But Borgeas — who was elected to the county board last November after a stint on the Fresno City Council — isn't stopping there. He's also pushing for a county ordinance to cap campaign contributions, which currently are unlimited.
"Fresno is the political equivalent of the Wild West," Borgeas said. "Here, you can be in office forever and receive unlimited amounts of campaign cash."
Borgeas has put together a proposal he's dubbed the "Fresno County Campaign Reform Act" that he plans to take before his fellow supervisors on Sept. 24.
The proposal also has a third facet. If approved by the board, it would ask County Clerk Brandi Orth to implement a policy to put all late campaign contributions online no later than three days after they are received. Currently, there is no time requirement to put the documents online, though they are eventually posted. Also, the information is available if someone goes in person to the elections office.
Taken together, the proposal would radically shift Fresno County's election process.
But Borgeas' proposals face a steep climb right off the bat — from a majority of his fellow supervisors.
"I haven't seen (the proposal), but at first blush, I'm not impressed," Supervisor Debbie Poochigian said.
She recalled being an early supporter of state legislative term limits — "and I regret it." Term limits, she said, destroy institutional knowledge.
Bigger, Poochigian said, is Borgeas' motivation.
"Some of us are working on real issues, and others have time for publicity stunts," she said.
Supervisor Phil Larson said Borgeas came from the Fresno City Council, which has both term limits and campaign contribution limits.
"It's what the city's doing; he's got to take off his city hat," Larson said. "We're not going to do it."
Like Poochigian, Supervisor Judy Case hasn't seen Borgeas' proposal, but she isn't a big fan of term limits.
"It really harmed the process in the state of California," she said. "We ended up with inexperienced people that didn't have the experience to be statesmen."
Case also doesn't like the added cost. The county would have to foot the bill to put the issue on the ballot, though exact costs are unknown at this time.
Borgeas is going to have to find two other votes on the five-member board to push his proposal forward. Supervisor Henry R. Perea didn't return a phone call seeking comment.
Under Borgeas' proposal, supervisors would be limited to three terms — or 12 years — in office. The proposal would go before Fresno County voters next June. If approved, it would take effect immediately.
That means, for instance, the replacements for Larson and Case — who are not seeking re-election next year — would face the limits. The 12-year clock would start ticking for Poochigian, Perea and Borgeas himself when (and if) they sought re-election in 2016.
Also, the three-term limit applies to a lifetime. That means if a supervisor serves a term, then is defeated and comes back later to win again, that person could only serve two more terms.
It would, Borgeas said, allow supervisors to develop "institutional knowledge, while minimizing their institutionalization."
As for the contribution limits, Borgeas wants them to match those at the state level — $4,100 per election. In an election year, for instance, a contributor could give $8,200 total to a candidate — $4,100 for the primary election and the same amount for the general election.
Borgeas' term limits proposal isn't new.
In 2000, for instance, the San Joaquin Valley Taxpayers Association pushed unsuccessfully for Fresno County supervisor term limits.
Ten California counties have term limits, said Gregg Fishman, communications coordinator for the California State Association of Counties. All are either two or three four-year terms.
Among the counties are Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Clara and San Joaquin.
Fresno County supervisors have run the gamut. Some have served just a term, but others became almost legendary for their tenures. Among them were Sharon Levy, who served for 25 years, and Deran Koligian, who was at the very end of his fifth term when he died in late 2001.
"I think the county has done just fine without term limits," Poochigian said. She said both Koligian — her father — and Levy "did well for this county. They kept it grounded and stable."
Borgeas acknowledged that the proposed changes "will fundamentally change how elections and campaign fundraising are conducted in Fresno County." But, he said, it "ultimately will help build more trust in county elections."
Current Fresno County board
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