The City of Redwood City is continuing to seek public input in its transition from an at-large election system for city councilmembers to a by-district system.
The existing at-large elections allow voters of the entire city to elect Redwood City’s seven councilmembers. In 2020, the city is set to transition to a system where the city will be divided into districts and voters will vote solely for the council candidates who reside in their district.
With help from this Map Kit and this supplemental Microsoft Excel Kit, residents are being asked to create and submit their own proposed map for what the districts should look like. The deadline to submit your district map proposal is Friday, Jan. 18. Maps can be submitted at City Hall or directly to the project consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail at PO Box 5271, Glendale, CA 91221.
In addition, community forum events will be held at three city locations on Tuesday, Jan. 15 — the Veterans Memorial Senior Center at 11a.m., Fair Oaks Community Center at 5 p.m. and Downtown Library, Community Room at 7 p.m.
The move toward a district-based election system, approved by City Council in September, followed threats of legal action alleging the city’s current at-large system violates the California Voting Rights Act in discriminating against minorities and minority candidates.
Critics have voiced concerns over the impact of district elections, arguing in part that they force councilmembers to favor their district rather than the city as a whole, and would eliminate viable candidates who happen to reside near one another. Climate Online further covered this topic in October, in part by featuring a map showing where councilmembers and council candidates reside.
Redwood City is among a growing list of jurisdictions throughout California that are moving to district elections under threat of legal action. Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman sent a letter threatening legal action to the Redwood City council this past summer. Despite the Latino population making up 39-percent of city residents, according to Shenkman’s letter, the city has just one Latina councilmember, Alicia Aguirre, who was first elected in 2005. The at-large system “dilutes the ability of Latinos to elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of the city’s council elections,” the letter adds.
For more information about District Elections, visit the city’s site here.
Timeline for implementing By-District Elections for City Council Members:
August 8, 2018 City received a letter from Kevin Shenkman of the law firm of Shenkman & Hughes asserting that the City’s at-large council member electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act.
September 24, 2018 The City Council adopted Resolution No. 15704 initiating the process to transition from an at-large election system to a district-based election system.
October 22, 2018 First public hearing held at the City Council meeting, at which the public was invited to provide input regarding the composition of the districts.
November 19, 2018 Second public hearing to seek additional public input and provide direction on criteria to be considered while drafting district maps.
Throughout November and December residents are able to draft and submit district map proposals.
January 15, 2019 Three public forums will be held in different regions of the community led by the City’s demographer: Veterans Memorial Senior Center at 11:00am, Fair Oaks Community Center at 5:00pm, and Downtown Main Library at 7:00pm.
January 18, 2019 Deadline for the public to submit maps.
February 4, 2019 Draft Maps will be posted on the District website and available at all District public offices.
February 11, 2019 During the City Council meeting the third public hearing will be conducted, during which the public is invited to provide input regarding the content of the draft map or maps and the proposed sequence of elections.
February 18, 2019 Any revised or new maps requested at the third hearing posted on District website and available at all district sites.
February 25, 2019 The City Council will conduct the fourth public hearing, and will be requested to select a preferred map and direct amendments as necessary.
March 11, 2019- The City Council will conduct the fifth public hearing to adopt a map, election sequence, and introduce an ordinance to transition to a district-based electoral system.
March 25, 2019 Second reading of ordinance.
March 31, 2019 Deadline to adopt ordinance.
March 2020 Community votes on Charter revisions implementing by-district elections, if necessary.
November 2020 First by-district elections held in four districts.
2021 Districts redrawn using 2020 Census data.
2022 Remaining three districts hold their first elections.