IT’S OFFICIAL: EL CAjON COUNCIL VOTES TO PUT DISTRICT ELECTIONS ON THE BALLOT

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By Jonathan Goetz

August 11, 2016 (El Cajon) -- The El Cajon City Council voted 4-0 (with Councilman Bob McClellan absent) on Tuesday, August 9, to put district elections on the ballot.

If approved by voters in the November 8, 2016 election, districts will be finalized in 2017 and utilized from 2018 forward.

Mayor Bill Wells first directed staff to look into the issue back on July 14, 2015. He was concerned that numerous state and federal Voting Rights Act lawsuits have forced similar sized cities and jurisdictions to switch from at-large seats to district elections.

You can read questions and answers from a public forum here:  http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/22153

The question on the ballot will read:

Do you approve amending Section 201 of the City of EI Cajon Charter to require election of City Council members by geographic districts in which they reside beginning with the general municipal election to be held in 2018?

The full text is as follows:

Form of Government

Section 201. Legislative Body; Composition, Elections and Terms

The legislative body of the City shall consist of a Mayor, who shall be elected directly, and four persons elected at large by districts. This legislative body shall be known as the City Council, and each of its members shall be known as "Council Members."

No person shall be eligible to hold the office of Mayor. or to be elected or appointed to the office of Mayor, unless such person is a resident and registered voter of the City or territory annexed to the City at the time of filing the nomination papers or at the time of appointment to such office. To be eligible to seek election or appointment to the office of Council Member, a person must be a registered voter of the City and resident of the Council district. which that person seeks to represent at the time of filing the nomination papers for such office, or at the time of appointment to such office. The Mayor and Council Members must continue to reside as set out herein during his or her incumbency, and shall be removed from office upon ceasing to be such a resident.

The Mayor shall be elected by the qualified voters of the City directly and the each of the four Council Members shall be elected by district by the qualified voters of one of four (4) districts designated by number within the City at a general municipal election to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November of every even-numbered year. The term "by districts" shall mean the election of eligible persons, as defined herein, to the office of Council Member by voters of each district alone.

For the purpose of electing Council Members, excepting the Mayor, the City shall be divided into four (4) numbered districts before December 31. 2017. The boundaries of the four districts shall be set by ordinance of the City Council and established initially by reference to the federal decennial census of2010. Thereafter the boundaries of such districts shall be subject to alteration and change following each federal decennial census commencing with the 2020 census, and following any annexation of territory to the City, which the Council finds results in a significant deviation from an equal number of people in each district. No later than December 31st of the year following the year in which each decennial federal census is taken, the City Council shall adopt an ordinance to divide the City into four Council districts. Any such redistricting shall become effective at the expiration of the term of the Member from the district at the time of redistricting. Prior to establishing or modifying boundaries the City shall conduct a series of public meetings throughout the community, in such locations and at such times determined by the City Council that allows residents the opportunity for reasonable participation in the mapping of districts.

The establishment of initial districts, and any subsequent boundary adjustments during a Council Member's term, shall not result in a disqualification for membership on the Council during such term.

Their terms of the Mayor and Council Members shall be staggered in the manner as existing at the time of the adoption of this Charter. They shall hold office for the period of four years from and after the date of certification of election results by the City Council and until their successors are elected, and qualified.

The members of the City Council shall not be eligible to any other office or employment with the City during the period of their incumbency, and for a period of one year following the termination of their position on the City Council.