City Council districts are coming

The City of Ventura received a threat of a lawsuit relating to our current At-Large Election Process for selecting city council members from Attorney Robert Rubin which in part stated that our current method of electing city council members at-large does not conform to the California Voting Rights Act(CVRA) and that city council elections must transition from the current “at large” method to “by district” in order to conform to CVRA requirements.

The State of California has also determined that the Ventura City Council does not represent the racial diversity in Ventura and that we need to elect our city council by districts.

The City of Ventura currently elects City Council members through an at-large election process, which means all voters elect all members of the City Council. Changing to district based elections will result in the City being divided into seven geographic districts, each with one City Council member who resides in the district and is chosen only by the voters residing in that district.

City Attorney Gregory Diaz has instructed the City Council that to avoid a costly legal battle, that the city would probably lose Ventura should start the process to a voting system where its elected officials are seated based on where they live in Ventura.

“While a number of options are provided for the City Council’s consideration, transitioning to districts is the only one that clearly meets the requirements of the CVRA,” Diaz wrote in his staff report.

To protect the City and avoid significant legal costs the City Council adopted a resolution on October 16, 2017, declaring the City’s intent to transition to district based elections; the ordinance needs to be adopted by January 14, 2018 making district elections effective for the 2018 election.

Along with drawing new lines, the council must consider what to do with council members who find themselves living in the same district as is the case now.

The following meetings will be held to discuss the proposed new district voting.

Community Information Meeting: October 26, 6 p.m. at the Poinsettia Pavilion, 3451 Foothill Rd.

Public Hearings: November 6, 2017 at 6 p.m., December 4, 2017, at 6 p.m., December 11, 2017 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 501 Poli St.

For a complete list of key dates, administrative reports and frequently asked questions visit www.cityofventura.ca.gov/districtelections. You may provide input via email at cityclerk@cityofventura.ca.gov. The City has created a short video that explains the district elections process at www.facebook.com/thecityofventura .

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