Lassen voters to decide if there will be term limits for county supervisors

Lassen County, home of one of the longest-serving county supervisors in California, may soon impose term limits on future supervisors.

The Lassen Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to adopt a resolution that places a proposed three-term limit before voters in November. Supervisors Jim Chapman and Aaron Albaugh voted against the resolution.

It follows approval of a term-limit ordinance that passed June 10 with a 4-1 vote.

The lone “no” vote was cast by Chapman, who is midway through his ninth term as a Lassen supervisor. He favors voter-imposed term limits over mandates, he said.

“Mandates limit the democratic process. The voters are very successful at figuring out who they want to represent them,” Chapman said.

He first ran for a seat on the Board of Supervisors in 1976 and ran successfully for a second term. When Chapman was defeated in his bid for a third term, he waited it out, then ran again.

He has been elected ever since for a total of 34 years in office with over two years left in his ninth term as a Lassen County supervisor.

Chapman faced opposition in eight of his campaigns. “Each election is a battle of new ideas. It requires a constant reinventing of oneself in terms of dealing with the ideas and needs,” he said.

Larry Wosick, chairman of the Lassen County board who initiated the term-limits ordinance, said it was not directed at Chapman. If approved by voters, it would apply to supervisors starting new terms on and after Jan. 1, 2015.

That gives Chapman another 14 years, potentially, on the board “if I decided to duke it out,” he said.

Instead, Chapman has announced that he does not intend to seek a 10th term. He was a candidate for Lassen County auditor on June 3 and was soundly defeated.

But Chapman does intend to campaign vigorously against the term-limit ballot measure.

“Voters are fully competent to sort out who and what they want,” he said.

Approval of the ballot measure would make Lassen the state’s only rural county with term limits. Los Angeles, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties have set a limit of three four-year terms on their supervisors. Orange, San Francisco and San Joaquin supervisors are limited to two four-year terms.