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The City Council Wants Your Input: At-Large v. District Elections

Post Date:03/03/2017

On Tuesday, March 7th, the City Council will have a discussion about how the voters of Goleta should elect their councilmembers.  The question is whether Council should change the current voting method from at-large to district elections. Currently, under the at-large method, councilmembers are elected by all voters in the City. Under a district-based method, councilmembers may run only in their district and be elected only by voters who live in their district. If the City chooses to move to a district-based method, the City would embark upon a public process to draw district lines to split the City into four districts.

This question has been raised due to a Notice of Violation of California Voting Rights Act served on the City by two Goleta residents.  The Notice asserts Goleta elections are characterized by “racially polarized voting,” meaning a larger ethnic group of voters are statistically proven to prefer candidates who consistently defeat the preferred candidates of voters in a protected class. The Notice demands that the City begin the process to transition to district based elections.  The Notice further states that if the City declines to do so, the residents who filed the Notice and others may commence a lawsuit to compel the City to hold district-based elections.

The City Council needs to make a decision on how to move forward and seeks the public’s input.  A full staff report on the item can be found here.

This item is scheduled for the 6 p.m. session of the Goleta City Council meeting on Tuesday, March 7th.  The public is encouraged to attend in person to provide input during the public comment period.  City Council Chambers are located at 130 Cremona Drive, Suite B. 

Those who wish to submit comments in advance can email them to citycouncil@cityofgoleta.org.  It is recommended comments be submitted by noon on Monday, March 6 so the Council has adequate time to review them.

The meeting will also be televised on Channel 19 and can also be streamed through the City’s website at www.cityofgoleta.org.