By-district voting, representation adopted by Cosumnes Community Service District Board of Directors


At their regular meeting on Wednesday, February 20, the Cosumnes Community Services District Board of Directors voted to drop their current at-large representation in favor of by-district voting. The 4-1 vote came after extensive public comment that mostly favored the change.

Currently, the five directors serving the district, which includes Elk Grove and Galt, are elected on an at-large basis. In an at-large system, there are no districts and the directors can live anywhere in the jurisdiction. 

The vote by the CCSD directors comes in an environment where several California municipalities and special districts have either been sued on the contention that at-large systems violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 or have voluntarily made the switch. Several of those governing bodies that have been forced by legal actions have paid steep legal fees of the litigants pursuing the change.

Leading off the board's deliberation was Director Jaclyn Moreno who addressed two public speakers who said that the matter should be decided by voters. Moreno who was elected in November came in first place among four candidates seeking two open seats and made the switch to by-district voting a central theme of her campaign  (listen to her entire comments below).

"With all due respect, the two candidates who won the last election as was mentioned by one of the speakers who came up this evening, we campaigned heavily with by-district as being one of the front issues in each of our campaigns," Moreno said. "We won an overwhelming majority, so this suggests we have let the voters decide and it also suggests that we have a mandate to do what we said we were going to do in the campaign." 

Voting with Moreno were directors Rod Brewer, who was re-elected in November to a third term and came in second place behind Moreno, Orlando Fuentes, and Gil Albiani. Even though he voted for the change, during deliberations, Albiani said he preferred the current at-large system.

Voting against the change was Director Jim Luttrell. In his comments, Luttrell said he favored one of the eight other options presented for consideration that would have implemented the by-district change for the 2022 elections instead of 2020 given that five district boundaries drawn for 2020 will be based on 2010 census information. 

"I think that districting by the old census is going to skew the 2020 elections," Luttrell said. "I would prefer to do it and make them correctly for the 2022 elections." 

During the staff report to the board, it was estimated the cost to draw the five districts by an independent demographer for the 2020 election, and then again in 2022 based on 2020 census would be between $25,000 and $50,000 each time. That cost would be offset by lower costs for conducting by-district elections and avoiding likely litigation costs if the change had not been implemented.

The change was a victory for progressive Democratic Party members in Elk Grove who have been advocating the change not only for the CCSD, but the Elk Grove Unified School District and the Elk Grove City Council. Among party activist speaking at the meeting was executive board member of the Democratic Party of Sacramento County and Elk Grove resident Maureen Craft who noted broader implications of changing to a by-district system.

"It is not only a voters rights issue, it is a civil rights issue," Craft said.

After the meeting Amar Shergill, who spoke at the meeting and has appeared regularly at the CCSD, and the Elk Grove City Council urging by-district voting said he was pleased with the willingness of the CCSD to become compliant with the CVRA. 

"We are thankful that the CSD has complied with state law and avoided costly litigation. By District voting saves taxpayer money and gives all communities a fair opportunity to have their voices heard in elections," Shergill, a member of the California Democratic Party executive board and the American Sikh Public Affairs Association said. "Let's hope that the Elk Grove City Council and the School Board follow this example, stop violating the California Voting Rights Act, and put fair elections ahead of their political self-interest."   


  







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2 comments

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

It is pleasing to see the CCSD Board of Directors take this action and switch to the more democratic form of by-district voting. Ms. Moreno is to be applauded. Mr. Fuentes and Mr. Brewer had the opportunity in the past, but it fell to the election of Ms. Moreno and the force of her will.

There is a cautionary note however. I suspect the Elk Grove City Council members and trustees on the Elk Grove Unified School District, lacking their own ideas, will contort Ms. Moreno's words on a mandate from voter to their own benefit.

Capt. Benjamin L. Willard said...

It is pleasing to see the CCSD Board of Directors take this action and switch to the more democratic form of by-district voting. Ms. Moreno is to be applauded. Mr. Fuentes and Mr. Brewer had the opportunity in the past, but it fell to the election of Ms. Moreno and the force of her will.

There is a cautionary note, however. I suspect the Elk Grove City Council members and trustees on the Elk Grove Unified School District, lacking their own ideas, will contort Ms. Moreno's words on a mandate from voters to their benefit.

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