October 23, 2014
Final Reports
San Mateo Courts - Civil Grand Jury 1999 Final Report: Ravenswood City School Concurrent Holding of Two Elective Offices
Background | Findings | Recommendations
Background:

There are more than 20 municipalities in San Mateo County, each with its own varying number of elected officeholders. In addition, voters elect county government and special district officers.

In 1998, the San Mateo County Grand Jury received a complaint concerning a person concurrently holding two elected positions. California law requires an automatic vacancy in the first office held by an individual if the two elected offices are assumed to be incompatible. An incompatible office is identified by California law as one in which the duties of two offices overlap so that their exercise by one person may require contradictory or inconsistent actions to the detriment of the public interest. Any actions against an individual unlawfully holding or exercising public office is solely vested in the California Attorney General. The officeholder in question was deemed to be holding incompatible offices and resigned from the first office. As a result, no action was necessary by the California Attorney General.

Findings:

The 1999 Grand Jury is concerned the concurrent holding of two incompatible offices could occur again. The County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder's Office processes County and special district candidate filings for office, and city clerks of individual cities administer their own candidate filings. There is no comprehensive, generally circulated list available of special district, County government and individual city officeholders, nor is there a County standard requiring a similar comprehensive list of candidates for office.

Because the California Attorney General has sole authority to take action the instances of serving in incompatible offices, a challenged case could take a great deal of time before a conclusion could be reached. In the interim, decisions made by a person holding such offices could compromise the public interest.

The 1999 Grand Jury found there were no safeguards to prevent the holding of two concurrent, incompatible elected offices.

Recommendations:

Recommendation 17

The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury recommends that the County Assessor-Clerk-Recorder's Office include information on the holding of two incompatible offices in the County's Candidates' Guide.


Recommendation 18

The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury recommends that city councils direct their city clerks to give material to candidates who file for municipal elective office information on the holding of two incompatible offices.


Recommendation 19

The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury recommends that city councils direct their city clerks to give material to candidates who file for municipal elective office information on the holding of two incompatible offices. These municipalities should have a statement on their filing papers similar to the County's Declaration of Candidancy requiring that candidates state what public office they currently hold (if any).


Recommendation 20

The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury recommends that at the filing of papers for office, municipal clerks and the County Clerk accepting the candidates' filing explain specifically to each candidate the law on the concurrent holding of two incompatible elective offices.


Recommendation 21

The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury recommends that after each election, the County Clerk-Assessor-Recorder, as chief election officer, send a list of elected office holders in the County to each municipality and special district, citing the law on the concurrent holding of two incompatible elected offices.


Recommendation 22

The San Mateo County 1999 Grand Jury recommends that the San Mateo County 2000 Grand Jury monitors the implementation of the above recommendation.

 

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