Could Santa Cruz have district wide elections?
According to an article in the LA Times, Attorney Kevin Shenkman’s ..."legal cudgel is the California Voter Rights Act, which for 15 years has made it easier for minority groups to prove that they are disenfranchised by at-large elections, where all voters of a city vote for all members of a city council."
California’s biggest cities — including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco — held elections by district before the advent of the Voting Rights Act. But among California’s 482 cities, only 59 hold district elections, according to a report released in December by the government watchdog group California Common Cause.
The city of Palmdale lost a lawsuit and had to pay the legal fees of all the attorneys, for a total of about $7 million. Most cities are deciding to settle and switch to district wide elections.
What would this mean for Santa Cruz? Since the UC Santa Cruz staff and general population dominate the city, the City Council tends to reflect their views. This could be an opportunity to have the City Council more properly reflect the constituents of the neighborhoods.