A Good Question On Council Districts

I attended last night’s meeting of the Citizens Advisory Committee on Election and Public Involvement (along with a lot of the staff of OCCORD and UNITE-HERE Local 11). I don’t have time at the moment to give a detailed run-down, but want to describe an episode from later in the meeting.

Newly appointed CAC member Sandy Day had a number of intelligent, solid questions for the scheduled presenter, political scientist Sarah Hill from Cal State Fullerton. One question posed by Day was what happens if, under a single-member district system, no one files to run in a district?

This provoked derisive chortles from the knot of OCCORD staffers sitting in the back of the room. What a silly question!

Actually, it’s not. Granted, it’s unlikely, but anyone who gas been paying attention to Orange County politics for the last several years has seen plenty of examples of the unlikely taking place. How likely is it that someone would be elected Supervisor by just 3 votes?

I think what Ms. Day was getting at was the key question of voter participation, since an underlying reason why more Latinos aren’t elected to the City Council is lower voting participation – and single-member council districts are not a solution.

Take Seal Beach, for instance. It is the only city in Orange County with a single-member district system. Last year, the council elections were cancelled because nobody filed to run against the incumbents.

The obvious differences between Anaheim and Seal Beach aside, Day’s question was a good one (notwithstanding the snickers from the know-it-alls peanut gallery).

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  1. That is an interesting statistic about Seal Beach. So in the case of Seal Beach it seems that districting actually led to the cancellation of an election. What did they end up doing? Did they allow the previous elected official to have another year in office?

    All I know is that whatever these CAC members believed going into this, they now have a job to do and that is to put aside their personal agendas and consider all of the facts presented to advise the city council with solid recommendations.

    I am deeply disturbed by Chairwoman Pham who last night all but stated that she does not believe in the validity of the group. She needs to resign and she certainly should not be chairing this committee.

  2. “I think what Ms. Day was getting at was the key question of voter participation, since an underlying reason why more Latinos aren’t elected to the City Council is lower voting participation – and single-member council districts are not a solution.”

    Is the problem one of low eligible voter turnout among Latino’s? Or is it a problem of low eligibility of residents to vote?

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