Scott Marks 2:48 p.m., May 23
Chula Vista's city council moved a step closer toward district elections in their July 17 meeting. The Charter Review Commission presented their report/recommendations to the council. Council members refined the proposals. Though the discussion on the dais was politically charged, the most frequently repeated wish was to "de-politicize the process."
The council will meet again on August 7 to finalize the ballot language for district elections. Voters will decide the outcome in November.
Council member Steve Castaneda said that his two goals for the process were to ensure that people who eat, sleep and work in a district, get elected from that district. His second goal was that the largest number of voters possible participate in electing their representatives.
The council majority concurred with those ideas. Candidates will be elected by district in the June primary and will advance to city-wide elections in November.
The majority of the council members also opposed the idea that a candidate could be elected in the primary with 50% + 1 votes. The argument made by several council members was that the June primary has an increasingly smaller turnout, which means city officials might be elected by fewer and fewer people.
By way of example, Castaneda pointed to Chula Vista's last mayoral election. Mayor Cheryl Cox was elected in the primary with a 57% majority, according to Castaneda. However, voter turnout was only 30%. Finishing the math, Castaneda suggested that it was a matter of concern that only 16% of the registered voters in Chula Vista elected the mayor. Castaneda stressed that though his analogy was specific to the last mayoral election, his concern was about democracy and any elected position.
Although the Charter Review report recommended that a commission be established to draw up the district boundaries, the majority of the council members favored a "simplified" alternative. For example, council member Patricia Aguilar suggested the city clerk, with some assistance, might be able to process the data and draw the boundaries. The council will consider other alternatives August 7.
Council member seats will be phased into the process of district elections. No sitting council member will go through the process.