How to Run for a Board of Supervisors (Step-by-Step Guide)

  • By: Josh Palmer
  • February 14, 2023
How to Run for a Board of Supervisors
Reading Time: 4 minutes

A board of supervisors is responsible for overseeing public services and managing fiscal responsibility at the county level. Let's look at the requirements to run.

A board of supervisors oversees county operations and management within six U.S. states and 16 New York counties. 

A board of supervisors exercises executive and legislative powers, similar to  a city council. The difference between the two is that cities are municipal corporations, while counties are administrative divisions of a state. Therefore, the board of supervisors implements and refines the local application of public policy and state law.

Read on to learn more about the position, key responsibilities, and how to run for a board of supervisors. We’ll also look at the ways board portal technology facilitates advanced meeting preparation, collaboration, and effective governance.

What is a Board of Supervisors?

A board of supervisors is an elected group of officials responsible for overseeing county operations. They ensure the effective and efficient provision of public services at the county level while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

As stated above, only six U.S. states have a board of supervisors overseeing county government operations. However, other states have similar agencies with different names, such as a city council or county board of commissioners.

Board of Supervisors Responsibilities

Members of a board of supervisors hold different responsibilities, depending on the state and makeup of the board. Several factors may influence county supervisors’ roles, such as population, budget, the county’s geographic area, the number of employees, and the presence of a police force.

However, most county supervisors handle the following core responsibilities:

Pass and Repeal Laws

A board of supervisors may pass laws governing the operations of their respective local governments. Additionally, they can repeal laws, approve new ordinances, and amend existing ones. Other legislative duties of county commissioners include:

  • Setting policy regarding hiring and firing county employees
  • Making decisions on issues such as land-use planning, building permits, and zoning changes
  • Appointing election officials like judges and inspectors
  • Removing and replacing election precincts
  • Approving department head appointments

Approve County Budgets

County supervisors also approve county budgets and decide how much money to allocate to local projects and programs. Other county budget responsibilities include:

  • Determining which departments receive funding
  • Ensuring all expenditures comply with applicable laws
  • Ensuring priority projects receive funding

Oversee and Manage County Departments

The board of supervisors also oversees county department operations, such as law enforcement, health care, education, parks, transportation, fire protection, and libraries. 

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How to Run for a Board of Supervisors

When it comes to how to run for a board of supervisors, jurisdictions have different processes and procedures. Typically, you’ll want to follow these steps:

1. Decide to Run

The first step is deciding to run for the board. Make sure to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much does the county supervisor make?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities?
  • What are the qualifications required?

2. Submit Petitions, Applications Forms, and Fees

The next step is to submit your application or petition within the stipulated time and pay the necessary fees.

It’s best to submit your application in response to a board vacancy and ensure you meet all the required qualifications. You can usually find an updated vacancies list on the board’s website, from the office of the board’s clerk, or the public library.

Your application will need to pass the rules committee for review before they make a recommendation to the board. If there’s no board vacancy when you submit your application, the board may retain it in case an opening arises.

3. Raise Money

The last step involves raising money from advocates and constituents, often via a crowdfunding campaign. Apart from crowdfunding, you can also try peer-to-peer fundraising, sell campaign merchandise, use a giving kiosk, host a paid dinner party, or hold a charity auction.

Getting Started with OnBoard

To recap, a board of supervisors is responsible for overseeing county operations and maintaining fiscal reasonability. Primary responsibilities include passing and repealing laws, approving county budgets, and overseeing county departments.

When you decide to run for a county board of supervisors’ seat, you need to submit your petitions and application form, as well as pay the application fee. 

The work done by the board of supervisors requires streamlined board operations and effective meetings. Hence, the need for a proven board meeting management platform to ensure meetings run smoothly, reduce complexities, and promote collaboration.

OnBoard software streamlines board governance with tools for agenda creation, file distribution, remote communication, and board collaboration. A key feature of OnBoard’s meeting management software is the ability to create customizable agendas, which ensures important items receive coverage and meetings run smoothly. OnBoard also enables easy file distribution so meeting attendees can browse all relevant materials before the meeting.

OnBoard comes equipped with the following board management features, among others:

  • Industry-leading security, compliance, and data protection that’s certified and accredited
  • Agenda Builder and Minutes Builder for simplified meeting administration
  • Secure Messenger and Zoom Integration to enhance communication
  • Board Assessments to empower boards to measure their performance against the organization’s goals

Looking for help organizing your next meeting? Check out our free
Board Meeting Agenda Template today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • How is a Board of Supervisors Elected?

    While the selection of county supervisors varies from state to state, all members of the board of supervisors are elected by county voters. Some are elected to at-large seats while others are elected to specific geographic districts. Other county boards include municipal officials and mayors serving concurrently at the county level.

  • How Many Members Does a Board of Supervisors Have?

    Different states and counties have different numbers of county supervisors per board. However, most have at least five members with some having up to 15 members, depending on the size of the county, population, budget, or geographic area.

Free Tool

Efficiently track and document board decisions with our Meeting Minutes Template

Ready to upgrade your board’s effectiveness with OnBoard the board intelligence platform? Schedule a demo or request a free trial

About The Author

Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer
Josh Palmer serves as OnBoard's Head of Content. An experienced content creator, his previous roles have spanned numerous industries including B2C and B2B home improvement, healthcare, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). An Indianapolis native and graduate of Indiana University, Palmer currently resides in Fishers, Ind.