El Cajon looking to divide council seats into districts for 2016 election

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Bob Dylan said it first, “the times they are a changing,” and this time it is in the City of El Cajon.

Mayor Bill Wells proposed for the city manager and city attorney to investigate options in creating a city-sponsored measure for an amendment to establish district elections in the city of El Cajon in the November 2016 general municipal election.

Bob Dylan said it first, “the times they are a changing,” and this time it is in the City of El Cajon.

Mayor Bill Wells proposed for the city manager and city attorney to investigate options in creating a city-sponsored measure for an amendment to establish district elections in the city of El Cajon in the November 2016 general municipal election.

El Cajon currently uses “at-large” selections, in which the entire city votes for mayor and all councilmembers. Wells proposed change to district elections will still allow for the entire city to vote for mayor, but councilmembers will be chosen by four separate districts in the city. Wells believes this method of voting will allow for better representation of minority voters in Councilmember elections.

“El Cajon will soon need to move to district elections in order to be in the best position to defend against any claims that the City’s method of selecting members of the City Council violates the Voters Rights Act,” stated Wells in his agenda report. 

This is in response to California Assembly Bill 278, District-based Municipal Elections which states that The Voters Rights Act of 2001 in Section 14027 that an at-large method, “may not be imposed or applied in a manner that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election, as a result of the dilution or abridgment of the rights of voters.”

Other cities in California have already been forced by courts to move to district elections.

“To wait until we are legally challenged will likely result in significant legal fees,” Wells stated.

“Rather than accept this path, I am recommending that the City Council take control of our City’s future and consider placing the matter of district elections before the voters in 2016.”

Councilmember Gary Kendrick said district elections are the “wave of the future.” All councilmembers agreed that it should be the decision of the people, resulting in a passing proposal by unanimous decision.

El Cajon looking to divide council seats into districts for 2016 election