Opinion - Elk Grove Needs to Hold Special 'By District' Election For Council Vacancy

Special to Elk Grove News from Jaclyn Moreno with The Resistance | February 2, 2017 |  

Elk Grove is found in the same position it has been in three times within the last four years – with an open City Council seat. Steve Ly vacated his City Council seat after being elected the Mayor of Elk Grove and if history is any indication about the future of this seat, an appointment will be made tonight at the City Council meeting.  Let’s hope history does not repeat itself.

Vacancies to City Council positions are not unusual in Elk Grove. Gary Davis vacated a seat after being elected Mayor and in 2013, Robert Trigg was asked to fill the empty position. Similarly, when Jim Cooper was elected to the state Assembly that same year, Darren Suen was chosen by the sitting City Council to step in. 

This current vacated City Council seat comes at a turning point in Elk Grove and in the nation. After the recent presidential election, concerned citizens are speaking out at all levels of government and are showing up to protests, rallies, and meetings in droves. People are more engaged in the political process and they want their voices to be heard. 

Appointments to City Council positions do not allow for the people of Elk Grove to have a voice. The appointment process hijacks democracy and the only way to give the power back to the people is by allowing them the opportunity to choose who represents them and their interests. We need an election. 

Taking it a step further, we need a by-district election. In looking at the district-wide process Elk Grove currently uses for the election of Elk Grove’s City Council members, it’s important not to overlook the 2002 California Voting Rights Act. The California Voting Rights Act, prohibits the use of any election system “that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election.”  

One could argue that our current system in Elk Grove does just that – disenfranchises minority voters by softening their voice. A by-district election would give minority voters, who are largely concentrated in certain areas of the city, a better chance of electing at least one representative of their choice to the council.  It’s time for change and we are ready.    

We cannot sit idly while people in power are making important decisions that will have long term effects on our community.  We need to demand more for the people of Elk Grove.  This is why I will be present at tonight’s meeting - demanding an election – a by-district election, by the people.

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