Elk Grove to Consider Switching to 'By' District Elections, Could Face Developer Opposition

December 8, 2015 |

At their Wednesday night meeting, the Elk Grove City Council will hear a report from City Clerk Jason Lindgren outlining the steps the city could take to switch to a "by" district system of electing city council members.

The report was prepared after the city council earlier this year asked to explore the idea of switching from its current "from" district system. In the current from system, a council member has to be a resident in one of four districts, but is elected citywide, where a by district council member is elected only by voters in that particular district.

The requested report arose after the Elk Grove City Council took considerable flak after appointing two members in less than a two year span. When they appointed Bob Trigg in 2013 and Darren Suen in 2014 to two-year terms, city council members justified it based on the estimated cost of up to $780,000 to hold a special citywide election.

According to Lindgren's report if a vacancy occurred in the future, the cost of running a special by district election would cost no more than $200,000. Citing costs, Lindgren also recommended that the measure be placed on the November, 2016 general election ballot for a cost of about $5,000 versus $65,000 if it appears on the June primary ballot.

If the measure is placed on the June ballot and approved, the November elections for Districts 1 and 3 would be by district. If placed on the November ballot and approved, it would not take effect until 2018, but would be applicable if a special election were held prior to 2018.  

Regardless of when and if the measure if placed on the ballot, the fight to over the measure could become hotly contested. 

California Assembly Member Roger Hernandez (D - West Covina) has sponsored Assembly Bill 278 that would require any city with a population of greater than 100,000 to elect council members on a by district basis. The bill, which has strong support from groups like the MALDEF, stalled in the State Senate but Hernandez is expected to reintroduce the legislation.

Under a by district form, it is generally believed the costs to run a campaign is lower than in a from district system and more candidates, especially from under-represented groups, will run for office. 

Joshua Woods, Executive Director of Region Business said that although his group has not taken a stand on the issue, he personally has concerns about implementing by district council seats in Elk Grove. Woods believes Elk Grove's from district system has given the city a competitive advantage in California.

"Elk Grove is not mired in parochial fights pitting neighborhood-against-neighborhood and the Balkanization that you see in other cities," Wood said. "If anything other cities should be adopting the current Elk Grove model."  

Wednesday's meeting starts at 6 p.m.


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Anonymous said...

In a weird way, I think Davis will support this. If it passes each council member will have less citywide influence and the Mayor will have more. Plus, he will be able to siphon some of that money from developers since he will be the only one needing to run citywide. Pretty sweet deal I'd say!

Anonymous said...

Do the developers own the city?

The Boss said...

Well, the boss Joshua Woods has spoken. The Elk Grove City Council lives and dies by Region Business so look for the boys to fall in line and drop the entire matter.

However, all is not lost. The California Latino Caucus is a powerful one and Mr. Woods might need them some day so taking a no position might be a good idea. But let’s be clear, publicly it will be a no position, privately, no way boys if you want RB’s continued support!

Boss Hogg said...

They ought to throw in term limits too!

Anonymous said...

Would make it easier to vote them all out of office.

Curtis Menager said...

You are correct Anon 9:07. That's why the council won't support it. They know they need the votes from Districts other than their own in order to win re-election.

And did everyone hear Detrick say he would make a deal with other council members to get his projects passed? I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine? Council member Hume said it was illegal or unethical, maybe both, but the fact that Detrick said he would do it says it all. Sorry Proud to be led, i'm not proud of are elected officials.

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