The League of Women Voters of Ventura County supports measures to further good government (1960, 1962-63) through the support of non-partisanship in local government, the discouragement of attempts to weaken the effectiveness of the County Executive Ordinance, and the support of legislation which permits increased flexibility in California State law governing general law counties.
- 2005: Organized a forum at which the county executive and the directors of four county departments spoke on the current budget situation.
- 2005: Testified opposing amendments to Ventura City Council Campaign Finance ordinance. Submitted written statements on two occasions.
- 2004: Held a luncheon meeting with a panel discussion on County financial matters.
- 2003: Sponsored a meeting at which CEO Johnston discussed budget fundamentals.
- 2003: Testified in support of Ventura County Campaign Finance Reform Ordinance. Included campaign funding limits and creation of a commission to review issues about financing campaigns of county elected officials.
This position is the result of two studies by LWV-Ventura County: first as part of a planning study (1960) and, secondly, an “Evaluation of the Structure and Function of Ventura County Government.” (1962-63) The studies revealed that the State, as a sovereign body grants certain powers and authority to the counties under general law. Under general law the counties act as administrative units of the State and perform duties specified by the legislature. General law specifies:
- five supervisors elected by districts whose appointive powers may not be delegated;
- a specific number of independent elective officers (district attorney, assessor, auditor, sheriff, etc.); and
- procedures that must be followed in performance of duties delegated to the County (election procedure, property assessment and tax collection, etc.).
The City of Ventura, wanting greater local control, became the county’s first and only chartered city. Since 1970, Article 11 of general law has allowed counties and cities more flexibility in levying special taxes than they had initially. Ventura County League has retained this position to be able to request permission from LWV California to support such legislation. Until 1957, Ventura County supervisors exercised both policy-making and administrative powers as permitted by general law. Rapid growth and urbanization rendered this system inadequate. With the aim of reorganizing and modernizing county government, a citizen study committee recommended in 1957 that the supervisors’ energies be concentrated on policy making which could be accomplished by the delegation of administrative details to a county executive. The supervisors approved the County Executive Ordinance that same year.
Its implementation was limited in its first years but was fully carried out by 1962. This gave the executive, now called the Chief Executive Officer, authority to review and make recommendations on budget and expenditures; supervise personnel and purchasing; make studies on governmental matters as directed by the supervisors as needed or as the executive should find necessary. In general, the office was to exercise all the functions of a county manager but with no appointive power because by general law that function could not be delegated. This ordinance increased a supervisor’s time to attend to policy making and is considered by leaguers as vital to effective county government.
May, 2001, the Board of Supervisors adopted Ordinance #4235 amending the previous ordinance. This ordinance established the title and position of County Executive Officer, to be appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and laid out his powers and responsibilities. It states that the CEO is the administrative officer of the Board of Supervisors and exercises administrative supervision and control of the affairs of the County and those districts under the jurisdiction of the Board. Among the duties and responsibilities are the following: supervise and direct preparation of the budget and submit a recommended budget to the Board for its review and public hearing; act as appointing authority for most county agencies/department heads; for others, such as the Agricultural Commissioner, the Board must concur; implement through line management and day-to-day supervision, the policy and direction set by the Board.
Non-partisanship has been considered by League members to be a most important element in local government because local issues rarely relate to party platforms or principles and because “machine politics” are less likely to develop.