Fresno County voters will soon have the opportunity to decide what years two high-profile county positions will be up for election.
Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors unanimously supported a resolution that places a vote on the ballot this November that gives voters the chance to return the elections for district attorney and sheriff in-line with gubernatorial elections.
The backstory: Assembly Bill 759, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year, requires county district attorneys and sheriffs to be elected during presidential election years, instead of gubernatorial election years, starting in 2028.
- California’s 14 charter counties, which includes Fresno County, are exempted from the new law if the counties previously expressed before 2021 when their elections for district attorney and sheriff would occur.
The big picture: Fresno County does not have a preexisting provision regarding the elections for district attorney and sheriff, meaning those elections should be required to be held during the presidential cycle according to AB 759.
- But Supervisor Steve Brandau, who brought Tuesday’s resolution forward, feels that the state is overstepping its power.
- County Counsel Daniel Cederborg told the board that charter counties have certain home rule powers, which should exempt them from having to follow AB 759.
- Cederborg also expressed concerns that the bill is unconstitutional and that Fresno County could legally return its district attorney and sheriff elections to the gubernatorial cycle if voters choose to.
- District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp and Sheriff John Zanoni would have their current four-year terms extended to six years, ending in 2028 to match up with the presidential cycle if voters choose to apply AB 759 to Fresno County in November.
What they’re saying: Brandau said he believes there are several good reasons for holding the district attorney and sheriff elections with the gubernatorial election, rather than with the presidential cycle.
- “One of them is these are two very valuable offices, and it allows a strong focus on those two important offices rather than get them lost in the massive presidential election cycle – to keep them in the midterm, keep the focus in Fresno County on Fresno County on these two important offices,” Brandau said.
- Brandau added, “For me, this is another in a long line of things that Sacramento has done to remove local control, and I think they’re trying to do that again by messing with us in our elections.”