WASHINGTON — It took barely a year in Congress for Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod to decide that she could do more for her California constituents in county government.
She's one of 38 House members not to seek re-election in November, and during her single term, she grew frustrated quickly with the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
Negrete McLeod, 72, has decided to run for a seat on the board of supervisors in sprawling San Bernardino County, which includes distant suburbs of Los Angeles. Before election to Congress, she had served in the California Legislature.
"I've been kind of agonizing over it for the last few months," she said.
In the end, she asked herself whether she could make a bigger difference for her constituents working locally. "I believe the answer is yes," she concluded.
San Bernardino County has more than 2 million people. The five county supervisors make $151,971 annually, about $22,000 less than Negrete McLeod makes in Congress. She'd also get a car or car allowance of $14,600 a year.
Negrete McLeod said she was shocked by the experience of moving from the majority in the California Legislature to the minority in the U.S. House.
"Except for some case work, it's really hard to see what you've accomplished at the end of the day if you're a member of the minority party in the House. You make some speeches, you complain about procedure, but you really haven't had much impact on public policy," said political scientist Jack Pitney of Claremont McKenna College in California.Supervisors can have more of an immediate impact. They get streets widened, flood control projects approved, public libraries and affordable housing built, among other things.
"It is by no means a demotion," Pitney said. "She certainly can get more done as a supervisor than as a junior member in the minority party in the House."