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What does a Supervisor do?

During the year and a half that I campaigned for this office, I knocked on over 10,000 doors from Salinas to Pajaro. One of the questions that I was often asked was “What does a supervisor do?”

To put it plainly, it is the most important job in county government.

There are five districts in Monterey County, each with its own supervisor. Individually, these supervisors don’t have much power. Collectively, as the Board of Supervisors (BOS), they hold enormous power. It takes three out of five votes for the Board to act.

The BOS has limited power inside the incorporated areas of cities. The cities are primarily run by a mayor and city council, but the BOS does have some significant influence. For example, even in the cities, the BOS can direct Monterey County public policy that affects all Monterey County residents. Here are some of the areas that policy decisions impact:

  • Natividad Medical Center (a public facility owned and operated by the county)

  • Health Department (This includes everything from animal services, mental health, drug addiction programs, public health, environmental health and more)

  • Probation

  • Public Defender

  • Social Services (Veterans resources, homeless assistance, foster care, adult protective services and more)

  • Emergency Communications/911

  • Monterey County Jail

For those who live outside the cities, the county is involved in all the above and more. In essence, for the unincorporated areas of Monterey County, the supervisors operate as the mayor and city council. It is the county and the BOS decisions that determine policy for the following:

  • Public Works

  • Housing and Community Development (Planning and Building Services)

  • Parks

  • Libraries

  • Agricultural Commissioner

In addition, the BOS sets the budget for the entire county, which is now $1.8 billion. This includes

budgets for departments managed by other elected officials like the Sheriff, Assessor, County Clerk and others. These officials do not take policy direction from the BOS and operate independently, but how the supervisors allocate the budget plays a big role in what those elected officials can do.

Overall, It is important to realize that the supervisors play an executive, legislative and quasi-judicial role. In the executive role, the BOS oversees county departments, sets priorities and supervises official conduct of county officials and employees. In the legislative role, the BOS adopts resolutions or ordinances, which are local laws. In the quasi-judicial role, the BOS sits as the final arbiter for land use appeals from the Planning Commission and settlement of claims against the county.

While individual supervisors don’t have authority to direct the county, the position does have considerable influence. Supervisors sit on various committees throughout the county. Some are county committees while others include members from special districts or cities. The supervisors usually select one or two members to sit on these committees. Each supervisor can vote independently. I currently sit on about 27 committees, in addition to the weekly BOS meetings, which is by far the most of any member of the BOS.

Individual supervisors operate somewhat as a liaison between the public and county government. They (and their staffs) can direct or provide information to members of the public who contact the district office. Individuals who have a complaint about a county service or are encountering a problem with county government often contact their district supervisor. A supervisor can’t manipulate a law or policy to benefit anyone. However, if that law or policy is not being implemented correctly, a supervisor can work with the county department to resolve problems.

District 2, which includes North Salinas and North County, is unique as compared to the other four supervisorial districts in Monterey County. It is the only district with a majority of unincorporated residents. In fact, over half of the unincorporated population of Monterey County lives in the district that I represent. I like to think this makes this supervisorial district the most challenging, but it is also the one where a supervisor can have the most impact. I look forward to that opportunity over the next four years.

As always, don't hesitate to reach out to my office for assistance. You can reach us at 831-755-5022 or


Glenn Church

District 2 Supervisor

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