Who’s in your poll? Breaking down the duties of elected California officers

(KTXL) — When looking at a ballot it can be overwhelming to see the list of positions that numerous people are running for. It’s not always clear what the duties of those positions are, so let’s break it down.


The governor is the leading position of a state, serving as chief executive officer and responsible for overseeing the countless departments within the state executive branch.

In California, the maximum term limit for a governor is two terms of four years each.

According to the National Governors Association, some of the duties that a governor will carry out depending on how much power they are given include:

  • Pursuing new, revised policies and programs,
  • Appointing state court judges
  • Approving the state budget
  • Enacting of legislation
  • Legislative oversight of executive branch functions
  • Nominating and/or appointing individuals to boards and commissions

Lieutenant Governor

  • Serves as acting governor when the governor is absent from the state
  • President of the Senate and votes in cases of a tie

According to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, they also sit on a number of academic boards as a voting member including the:

  • Board of Regents of the University of California
  • Board of trustees of the California State University system
  • Board of Governors of California Community Colleges system
  • Calbright College Board of Trustees

The lieutenant governor, in rotation with the state controller, also chairs the State Land Commission that oversees land use such as:

  • offshore oil resources
  • permitting for all navigable waterways
  • management of state land-use planning and revenues

The lieutenant governor also chairs the California Commission for Economic Development.

Secretary of State

According to the office of the California Secretary of State, the office works on creating greater transparency and accessibility between the government and the people in areas including:

  • elections
  • Business
  • Political campaigning
  • Legislative advocacy
  • Historical records

The secretary of state also:

  • Serves as the state’s Chief Elections Officer
  • Implements electronic filing, internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information
  • Maintains business filings
  • Operates the Safe at Home confidential address program
  • Maintains the Domestic Partners and Advance Health Care Directive Registries
  • Safeguards the State Archives
  • Serves as a trustee of the California Museum


The state controller serves as the Chief Financial Officer for California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, administers two of the largest public pension funds in the nation and serves on 78 state boards and commissions, according to the Office of the State Controller.

Duties of the State Controller:

  • Account for and control disbursement of all state funds
  • Determine the legality and accuracy of every claim against the State
  • Issue warrants in payment to the State’s bills including lottery prizes
  • Administer the Uniform State Payroll System
  • Audit and process all personnel and payroll transactions for state civil service and employees, exempt employees and California State University employees
  • Audit various state and local government programs
  • Inform the public of the State’s financial condition
  • Inform the public of the financial transactions of city, county and district governments


The state treasurer is in charge of providing funding for education, housing, infrastructure and public health facilities, according to the Office of the State Treasurer.

Duties of the state treasurer:

  • Provide transparency and oversight for the state’s investment portfolio and bank accounts
  • Serves as agent for the sale of all state bonds
  • Serves as a trustee on a majority of the state’s outstanding debts
  • Manages savings programs that help people with disabilities, saving families for their children’s college education and private employees who lack an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan.

Attorney General

The attorney general is the leading lawyer and law enforcement official in the state, according to the Office of the Attorney General.

Duties of the attorney general:

  • Issues formal opinions to state agencies
  • Acts as a public advocate in areas such as child support enforcement, consumer protection, antitrust and utility regulation
  • Propose legislation
  • Enforces federal and state environmental laws
  • Represents the state and state agencies before the state and federal courts
  • Handles criminal appeals and serious statewide criminal prosecutions
  • Institutes civil suits on behalf of the state
  • Represents the public interests in charitable trust and solicitations
  • Operates victim compensation programs

Insurance Commissioner

The insurance commissioner protects consumers in the nation’s largest insurance market by regulating the insurance industry, according to the California Department of Insurance.

Duties of the insurance commissioner:

  • Enforces the state’s insurance laws
  • Sets standards for agents and broker licensing
  • Reviews market conduct of insurance companies
  • Resolves customer complaints
  • Investigates and prosecutes insurance fraud.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

The superintendent of public instruction is responsible for enforcing education laws and regulations and continuing to reform and improve public elementary school programs, secondary school programs, adult education, some preschool programs, and child care programs.

Duties of the superintendent of public information:

  • Holds local education agencies accountable for student achievement in all programs and for all groups of students
  • Gives local education facilities the ability for all students to achieve state standards
  • Provides statewide leadership that invites the use of technology to improve teaching and learning
  • Advocates for additional resources and flexibility

California State Board of Equalization

The California State Board of Equalization was created to regulate county assessment practices, equalize county assessment rations and administer taxes and fees programs.

Duties of the California State Board of Equalization,

  • Assesses the state-wide value of public utility and railroad property
  • Maps and assigns tax rates area numbers to each state geographical area with a different distribution of revenues
  • Co-administer of the welfare exemption with County Assessors
  • Promotes uniformity and consistency throughout the state to provide guidance for the County Assessors

Sheriff Coroner

The main duties of a sheriff-corner are keeping the peace, attending the courts and operating the county jail, according to the California State Association of Counties.

Duties of the Sheriff-Coroner:

  • Patrol jurisdiction area by answering calls for service, conducting investigations and making arrests
  • Operate jails and work camps
  • Transport inmates, provide courthouse security and perform plaintiff duty
  • Maintain all records, respond to inquiries by law enforcement agencies, provide proper custody and security of valuables and locate families when necessary

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