What is a County Supervisor?

When someone thinks about government, their mind tends to drift from local city council members and state legislators to congresspeople and senators working in Washington, D.C. But in California, one of the most significant government bodies is often the most overlooked.

In each of California’s 58 counties, five-member governing bodies allocate money and resources, set priorities and administer social services. Known as the Boards of Supervisors these panels make decisions and choices every day that impact our community small and large ways.

What is the Board of Supervisors?

The Board of Supervisors is the non-partisan elected body that is responsible for the operation of Santa Barbara County government. The Board is comprised of five members, elected by voters from each supervisorial district every four years.

What does a Supervisor do?

Supervisors serve as the legislative and executive branches of county government, passing and repealing laws — typically called ordinances — and supervising county departments. Though many people may not know it, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors control a $1.1 billion budget and oversee more than 4,200 employees.

Through their votes and proposals, Supervisors allocate money and resources to county services, set priorities and establish programs that can move our community forward or backward.

Who do they represent?

Each supervisor is elected from one of Santa Barbara County’s five supervisorial districts. Roughly 84,000 people reside in the Third District, a 1,000-square-mile area that spans from the balconies of Isla Vista to the sands of the Guadalupe Dunes.

What is an “Unincorporated Area?”

There are eight cities in Santa Barbara County with distinct boundaries. Each city has its own government and laws, and is responsible for providing services to residents that live within its boundaries.

Areas that are not within a city's boundaries — like Isla Vista — are known as "unincorporated communities”.

How does being “Unincorporated” affect Isla Vista?

Because Isla Vista is not an official city, Santa Barbara County and other governing bodies are responsible for providing municipal services — like Public Works, Fire and Police — to the community.

To some extent, the Supervisor is like the “Mayor” of Isla Vista — they are most accountable to the people. They represent Isla Vista residents on the Board of Supervisors and are directly responsible for servicing the needs of the community.

Bruce Porter is running to represent all communities in the Third District and give you a voice in the ways Santa Barbara County is run. Learn more about Bruce here.


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