October 2021

California Counties:

There are fifty-eight counties in California. 14 Counties are charter counties and except for San Francisco the remainder are general law. San Francisco has a consolidated city/county make up and has 11 Supervisors representing the eleven districts in the city. All other counties have five Supervisors. 

Fourteen counties are “charter” counties while the rest are “general law” counties. The definition of a charter county is the following:

  • The structure of county government specified in Charter as approved  by the electorate.  Structure can be tailored by the local electorate to meet the needs of the county.
  • The county has all powers of self-government unless they are inconsistent with the Constitution or State law.
  • County charter may provide for initiative, referendum and recall at the county level.
  • County Charter can require an Administrative Code detailing all regulations, policies and procedures.
  • County Charter can provide that a “municipal utility tax” is levied in the unincorporated area.

Forty-Three counties are Non-Charter or General Law:

  • The structure of county government is specified in State Constitution and State Statutes.  Only amending the State Constitution or State Law can change the structure.
  • Counties have powers of self-government as prescribed by the State Legislature.
  • State Statutes do not provide for initiative or referendum or recall of county officers.
  • State Statutes do not require an Administrative Code.
  • County cannot levy a utility tax in the unincorporated area.


Sonoma County is a Non-Charter or General Law County.

The five Supervisors in Sonoma County are:

1st   District  -  Susan Gorin

2nd  District  -  David Rabbit

3rd   District  -  Chris Coursey

4th   District  -  James Gore

5th   District  -  Linda Hopkins


A redistricting commission is currently reviewing the supervisorial boundaries. There will be an election for Supervisor in the 2nd and 4th Districts in 2022. 

All counties elect their Treasurers except Los Angeles, Sacramento, Santa Clara and Glenn.

All counties elect their District Attorney and their Sheriff. 

Counties may also have an Assessor, a Recorder, an Auditor, a Controller, a Treasurer, a Tax Collector, a County Clerk, a Registrar of Voters, a Coroner and/or a Medical Examiner.

The Sonoma County Chief Administrator is Sheryl Bratton.  She is the highest paid county employee with a yearly salary of $257,270.44. 




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