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Even though the idea has been rejected by Los Angeles County voters, a proposal to expand the Board of Supervisors is gaining traction in the state Legislature amid complaints that the panel is too small to properly serve the nation’s most populous county.

A plan to ask voters statewide to expand the board from five to seven members and create a new, elected county chief executive officer has sailed through two legislative policy committees despite a split in L.A. county’s delegation to the Legislature, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Sen. Tony Mendoza , D-Artesia, leads a group of 10 senators who have introduced legislation for a statewide ballot measure based on the belief it would make the board more representative of and accessible to constituents, according to The Times. With nearly 10 million residents, L.A. County is nearly twice the size of the second most populous county in the nation, Cook County in Illinois.

Currently, each board member represents about 2 million people.

“Representing more than 1 million people makes access to a supervisor nearly impossible for an individual when they need help to access county services, a key function of local government,” Mendoza said during a recent legislative hearing in comments cited by The Times.

The measure was approved by the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee on a 4-1 vote Wednesday, but still needs approval by the full Senate and Assembly.

Sen. Henry Stern, D-Woodland Hills, the committee’s chairman, voted against the measure. He said he was wary of having Los Angeles County government dictated by the Legislature and voters in other counties, including San Francisco, The Times reported.

I am uncomfortable making these decisions here in the Legislature,” Stern said. On board members, he added, “If we feel they are not representing us well, we can vote them out of office.”

The measure is opposed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, which said in a letter to lawmakers that the proposal “completely undermines the ability of county residents to self-govern” and the decision should be one for county voters to make, not voters statewide. County voters have rejected board expansion measures eight times going back to 1926, according to The Times.

—City News Service

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