As Elk Grove Approaches 900 Months, A Look at Historical Representation

June 12, 2015 | On July 1, the City of Elk Grove will mark the 15th anniversary of its incorporation. During this time, the City has ...

June 12, 2015 |

On July 1, the City of Elk Grove will mark the 15th anniversary of its incorporation. During this time, the City has experienced ups and downs in its brief history. 

Over the last 30 years, Elk Grove has been transformed from sleepy agricultural-themed area populated by a White majority into what some of our elected officials proudly proclaim as one of the country's most ethnically diverse communities. Indeed, the Elk Grove Unified School District boosts of a student body that speak a multitude of languages, and by some accounts, is one of the most ethnically and racially diverse places in the country.  

While the elected officials hold their heads high when praising this diversity, is that same diversity represented in the same officials elected to office?  

To this end, in this analysis we will examine the historical racial and gender composition of the Elk Grove City Council to see if this body is representative of the city's diversity. 

Our analysis is based on the total number of representative months; or, the city will have been incorporated 15 years on June 30, there are 12 months per years, and the city council has been, with  one exception, filled by five members - 5 council members x 12 months, x 15 years..

For the city council there have been 899 months of representation. (There was an approximately one month vacancy before Bob Trigg's 2013 appointment).

The results are as follow:
  • White  - 563 months, or 62.62-percent. The representatives in this group include Dan Briggs, Mike Leary, Rick Soares, Pat Hume, Gary Davis (in both positions), Steve Detrick  and Bob Trigg.
  • Black/African American -  173 months, or 19.25-percent. This group's sole representative is Jim Cooper.
  • Latino - 149 months, or 16.58-percent. This groups sole representative is Sophia Scherman.
  • Asian/Pacific Islander - 14 months, 1.55-percent. This group includes current council members Steve Ly and Darren Suen.
In terms of gender, Sophia Scherman's 149 months, or 16.58-percent has been the sole female representation. 

So how does historical Elk Grove's representation compare to U.S. Census data as of 2013 listed below?
  • White - 46.1-percent
  • Blacks African American - 11.2-percent
  • Latino - 18.0-percent
  • Asian 26.2-percent
  • Two or more races - 7.9-percent
  • Hawaiian Pacific Islander - 1.2-percent
  • Native American 0.6-percent
In the city's first 15 year, the composition of the council has been over-represented by White and Blacks; been close to even for Latinos; and well under-represented for Asians. In terms of gender representation, 2013 census data shows Elk Grove to have a female population of 51.6-percent and thus this groups representation on the council is well under-represented. 

What will the council look like when it reaches its 20th anniversary in 2020? Given the power of incumbency, the probability of having the same council members as currently seated, three White and two Asian males, is high. Given the 300 months added to the base calculations shown above, the historical representation based on 1,200 months would be as follows:
  • White -   743 months, or 61.91-percent
  • Blacks/African Americans -  171 months, or 14.41-percent
  • Latino -  149 month, or 12.41-percent
  • Asian - 134 months, or 11.66-percent  
Whites will continue to hold their position and continue to be over represented; Blacks will have continued to be over-represented in historical terms but with diminishing results; Latinos numbers will continue their slide and be well under represented; Asians will have made gains but continue to have under-represented the city in historical terms.

If that same composition holds true in 2020, Whites and Asians will over represent the city's racial make-up with 60 and 40-percent respectively while Blacks and Latinos will have no seats on the dais.

In terms of gender, representation in historical terms will decline to 12.41-percent with no seats at the table.

Obviously, the council compositions can change - current members can decide against seeking reelection, seek higher office, lose an election, or be subjected to an act of God. Nonetheless, current council members have a tremendous advantage over any challenger in terms of fundraising should they decide to continue. 

The one variable would be if pending legislation forcing city's like Elk Grove to elect council members on a by-district basis was enacted. Even though the Elk Grove City Council discussed the possibility of changing to seats to a by-district basis in early 2015, to do so would go against the self-interest of the four council members who benefit from holding office on from-district basis.

Of course if Elk Grove continues its from-district representation, they could face litigation from any number of groups seeking to have a council more reflective of its gender and racial composition.       





  



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2 comments

Anonymous said...

Whatever the make up of our elected officials. I feel we still do not have quality leadership.

Anonymous said...

How about the city workforce?

I don't think the work force in any way reflects the diversity of the city.

Didn't know the city is 26% Asian. Haven't seen any Asian firefighters, cops or front line city employees.

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