Initiative Effort to Change To By-District Representation Unveiled at Elk Grove City Council Meeting

Jim Kelly holding initiative petition for by-district voting in Elk Grove. | 

October 14, 2017 |

A grassroots effort to change how city council members in Elk Grove are elected was unveiled at the Wednesday, October 11 City Council meeting. 

The effort, spearheaded by Elk Grove resident Jim Kelly, seeks to change the current system of from-district to a by-district form of representation. In the present system, council members must live in one of four districts but are elected on a citywide basis.

In a by-district system, a council member must live in the district they seek to represent and are elected only by the voters in that jurisdiction, not on a citywide basis. By-district proponents argue it allows easier access for minority and woman candidates, and since the cost of running in a smaller election is substantially lower than a citywide campaign, it will embolden more candidates to run for office.

Proponents of the change note that in 2014 Council Member Pat Hume and then-Mayor Gary Davis ran unopposed, while in 2012 Council Member Steve Detrick faced no opposition. While incumbents claim the lack of challengers was a sign of voter confidence in their performance, by-district advocates note the cost to run a viable citywide campaign - a minimum of $100,000 - is a barrier to greater democratic participation and the reason incumbents faced no opponents. 

All four city council members - Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, Stephanie Nguyen, and Darren Suen - have expressed varying levels of support for the existing form of elections and representation. 

During his presentation in the public comment section of the meeting, Kelly explained that the process to qualify a ballot measure for the initiative has started in earnest. 

"As of today the initiative process to change how we elect council persons has begun," Kelly said as he held up a petition. "The notice has been put in the paper, and the petition has been printed, and it looks like this."     

Kelly also stressed that efforts to gather about the 10,000 signature needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot would be performed on a voluntary basis. As there will be no paid signature gatherers, Kelly said to obtain the required number of signatures, 100 people will each need to secure 100 signatures.

After he noted that the city council could merely change to by-district representation on their own, Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly said he has had sought to bring the matter up for discussion but had no support from his fellow council members to place it on the agenda. If the city changed to a by-district system, the mayor's position would continue to be elected on a citywide basis.

When asked during his presentation to be the first to sign the petition, Ly declined Kelly's offer. 
 






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3 comments

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Kudos to Mr. Kelly for organizing a true grassroots effort to enhance democratic representation in this rigged city. When Mr. Kelly dropped his bombshell, I wonder if the janitor had to clean any mess from the chairs behind the dias after the meeting!

The people and possible candidates on small budgets will be the winners if this passes. Region Builders will be one of the losers because they will have to spend more money to cover their all their bets and other possible candidates. The Mayor says he supports it, because he would not be affected if it passes. Meanwhile, the candidates better get their lips in shape, cuz' they're about to do a whole lot of butt kissin' as they come up for reelection!

Josie said...

Yes, Kudos to Mr. Kelly and we're ready to sign. Waaay past due.

Steve Barnett said...

I am happy to see this development as well. I'm ready to sign!

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