This November, Anaheim voters will decide on two initiatives: whether to replace the current at-large council election system with the single-member district (or “by-district”)system being pushed by a left-wing coalition; and whether to expand the city council from four to six members.
Ballot arguments for and against the by-district initiative were filed on Monday. The pro argument is signed by Mayor Tom Tait and Councilman Jordan Brandman. I’ll comment in greater depth soon, but a couple of things jump out.
For months and months, the advocacy of single-member district by proponents has been racially-based: a relentless focus on the ethnicity of current and former councilmembers and claims that at-large elections “disenfranchise” Latino voters. Indeed, that was the entire basis of the Jose Moreno/ACLU lawsuit that put this initiative on the ballot.
However, except for a very oblique reference to “reflecting our neighborhoods,” the ethno-racial appeals are entirely absent from the pro-single-member districts argument – no doubt reflecting a cynical awareness by the pro-districts coalition that for voters who haven’t majored in Chicano studies, calls to gerrymander city council elections to produce a pre-determined ethnic composition holds little appeal.
Instead, the pro-argument promises that all things bright and beautiful will happen to Anaheim voters if they adopt single-member districts: cleaner streets, filled potholes, trimmed trees, whiter teeth, happier marriages and an answer to the question of whether intelligent life exists on other planets. OK – not the last three things, but that’s probably because it would have put them over the 300-word limit.
In any case, here is the Argument in Favor, followed by the common sense truth of the argument against.
ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE ____
Anaheim is a great place to live, and a city we’re proud to represent.
To keep it that way, we need a City Council that’s accountable to the people and elected to fight for you and your neighborhood at City Hall.
That’s why we should vote YES on Measure ____.
Measure ____ requires that council members live in the district they represent and allows you to elect a council member from your neighborhood.
Measure ____ is supported by leaders of Anaheim’s neighborhood groups, small businesses, and civic organizations.
Why? Since 1857, Anaheim has grown from a small town of fewer than 1,000 people to a major metropolis of almost 350,000. It’s become a center of commerce, sports, and culture with needs and priorities as diverse as our neighborhoods. We must ensure you’re effectively represented and governed by council members reflecting all of our neighborhoods. In fact, Anaheim is the largest city in California that doesn’t elect council members by district.
Yes on Measure ___ means smaller, manageable council districts, and a council member elected to represent you more effectively. Under Measure ___, your council member’s job will be to make sure your neighborhood gets its fair share of city services, and its streets are clean, the potholes filled, the trees trimmed, and your voices heard at City Hall. This means better services for your community.
Voting YES on Measure ___:
- Ensures neighborhoods get their fair share of city services.
- Brings council members closer to their community, improving accountability.
- Allows council members to respond quickly and efficiently to their community’s needs,
- such as public safety and traffic.
- Reduces special interests influence at City Hall.
Voting YES on Measure ___ keeps Anaheim a wonderful, safe place to live, and gives us the necessary tools to achieve our full potential.
Mayor of Anaheim
City Council Member
And the Argument Against:
ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE ___
If you do only one thing in the election, VOTE NO on MEASURE ___!
Measure ___ divides Anaheim and reduces your council representation. As long-time civic and
community leaders, we urge you to vote No:
Measure ___ TAKES AWAY YOUR VOTING RIGHTS.
Our current at-large election system gives every Anaheim voter a voice on every city council candidate. But Measure ___ restricts you to voting for only one City Council member. It reduces the number of council members representing your interests from 4 to 1. Instead of voting for candidates you support, Measure ___ limits your choices to candidates from a certain part of Anaheim.
Measure _ WAS FORCED ON ANAHEIM BY OUT OF TOWN SPECIAL INTERESTS AND TRIAL LAWYERS WHO SUED THE CITY, COSTING TAXPAYERS MILLIONS.
The City Council put Measure _ on the ballot to avoid spending more tax dollars on the ACLU lawsuit. The majority of your City Council members oppose Measure _ and support our at-large system.
Measure _ REPLACES A SYSTEM THAT WORKS WELL FOR ANAHEIM WITH A SYSTEM USED IN BIG CITIES AND CONGRESS
Anaheim’s at-large elections make each council member accountable to all voters, requiring them to govern for the whole city’s benefit, not just the part they live in. Measure _ would replace this successful system with the by-district system used by dysfunctional big cities like Los Angeles and by Congress.
MEASURE _ DIVIDES ANAHEIM BY CLASS AND NEIGHBORHOOD
Measure _ carves Anaheim into districts and divides Anaheim by class and neighborhood. That’s wrong. We believe in ONE ANAHEIM, where all citizens have an equal vote and our city council is accountable to every voter.
Measure _ divides a great city. Vote against carving up Anaheim. Vote NO on Measure _.
Curt Pringle, former Mayor of Anaheim
Shirley McCracken, former Anaheim Councilmember
Todd Ament, President, Anaheim Chamber of Commerce
Mitch Caldwell, Chair, Anaheim Neighborhood Association
Gloria Ma’ae, Member Anaheim Citizens Advisory Commission