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LWV League of Women Voters of California
Smart Voter
Santa Cruz County, CA November 7, 2000 Election
Measure T
District Elections/District Recalls
City of Santa Cruz

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Fiscal Impact | Official Information | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the Charter of the City of Santa Cruz be amended by amending Sections 601, 602 and 605 of Article VI and Section 701 of Article VII providing for the election and recall of City Councilmembers by district and the election of City Councilmembers by a majority vote, the text of which is on file in the City Clerk’s Department and the County Elections Department?

Fiscal Impact from the Director of Finance:
The exact fiscal impact of district elections cannot be estimated accurately due to variables involving the number of run-off elections which may occur in any given year and/or whether any given vacancy that may occur is filled by appointment or by special election. For purposes of this statement it will be assumed that the maximum fiscal impact would be 4 district elections along with 4 run-off elections. It is further assumed that no ballot measures would be submitted to the voters citywide, that any vacancy that may occur would be filled by appointment rather than election, and that no recall elections would occur.

Currently, a general municipal election involves about 36,000 voters and costs approximately $36,000, or $1.00 per voter. A district election is assumed to involve approximately 5,000 voters and would cost approximately $1.50 per voter. Therefore, the fiscal impact of a district election would be $7,500 per district or $30,000 if 4 district elections were held. In addition, the fiscal impact of a non-consolidated run-off special election would be $30,000 per district, or $6.00 per voter. If all 4 districts required a run-off election the total would be $120,000.

Official Sources of Information
Impartial Analysis from the City Attorney
Currently, each of Santa Cruz’s seven City Council seats is filled pursuant to an at large City-wide election. Likewise, City Council recall elections are conducted on an at large City-wide basis. In addition, City Council seats are filled on a plurality vote basis. In other words, those City Council candidates receiving the highest number of votes, whether or not that number constitutes a majority, are elected to the open City Council seats.

This initiative, if adopted by the voters, would amend the Santa Cruz City Charter so as to provide for City Council district elections. The initiative calls for the division of the City into seven City Council districts with each district electing one City Councilmember who must be a qualified elector of the City of Santa Cruz and who must have resided in the district for at least thirty (30) days preceding the opening date for the filing of City Council nomination papers. The initiative also provides for the recall of City Councilmembers by district recall election. Finally, the initiative provides that Councilmembers elected to a district City Council seat must be elected by a majority vote. If the candidate who receives the most votes does not receive a majority (i.e. at least 50% plus 1 of the votes), a runoff election between the first and second place finishers must be conducted. Any such runoff election would be conducted no later than four weeks after the certification of the initial election.

The initiative provides that if a City Councilmember ceases to reside in the district from which he or she was elected, that Councilmember shall forfeit his or her City Council seat. The initiative further provides that should a City Council seat become vacant before the next scheduled general election, the City Council must either fill that vacancy by appointing a qualified elector from the district represented by the vacant City Council seat or by calling for a special election to fill that seat.

The initiative defines the original seven City Council districts. The initiative provides that the City Council shall, by ordinance, adjust the boundaries of the City Council districts in the year following the year in which a federal decennial census is certified to assure that the seven City Council districts continue to be as nearly equal in population as possible. The initiative also provides that any such redistricting shall preserve, to the extent possible, the City Council districts originally established in the initiative itself.

The initiative provides that City Council district elections will commence in November 2000 with the election of Councilmembers from Districts 1 through 4. However, given the fact that this initiative has been scheduled for the November 2000 election, meaning that the initiative cannot be in effect on time for the November 2000 City Council election, City Council district elections for Districts 1 through 4 would commence in November 2004. In the November 2002 election Councilmembers will be elected from Districts 5 through 7.

Contact AGAINST Measure T:

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Arguments For Measure T Arguments Against Measure T
Councilmembers elected from neighborhoods will be more accessible, accountable and responsive. With this reform Measure, future Santa Cruz Councilmembers will be elected directly by their fellow neighbors -- not political machines.

Neighborhood district elections allow individual candidates to personally visit the homes of voters during a campaign, listen to their neighbors, and respond to their specific concerns. Residents will have easy and equal access to their representative at City Hall. Fair representation for all Santa Cruz Neighborhoods will be guaranteed.

This explains why voters in progressive cities like San Francisco, Berkeley, Watsonville & Salinas elect their city councils by district. Greater community participation and increased voter turnout are the result of saying YES to Neighborhood district elections.

Your YES VOTE will…

  • Give each neighborhood a responsive voice in city government.
  • Ensure that local issues are more important than partisan causes.
  • Make councilmembers directly accountable to their neighbors.
  • Lower campaign costs and empower more people to participate.
  • Increase the diversity and quality of representation.

The City of Santa Cruz has become too large to enable candidates to meet all the voters. Unfortunately, this has led to candidates depending upon expensive political mail and slate campaigns run by professional consultants. The high cost of the current "at-large" system prohibits working people from winning office without the substantial financial backing of Special Interests.

Over 8,000 of your fellow citizens signed petitions to put Neighborhood district elections on this ballot. They clearly support grassroots democracy. We encourage you to ask your neighbors which councilmember election system serves your needs best.

Please feel free to contact us to ask questions, volunteer, or review the proposed seven neighborhood-based districts. Visit our website at or just call us at 458-4953. Thank you.

Support Fair Representation for All Santa Cruz Neighborhoods!

VOTE YES on Measure T.

s/ Norm Lezin, Former Mayor of Santa Cruz

s/ Barbara Thompson, Santa Cruz City School Board Member

s/ Robert de Freitas, Vice President, Downtown Neighbors Association

s/ Gwen Lynch, UCSC Student

s/ Michael F. Hernandez, Santa Cruz City Councilmember

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The claims made above are the OPPOSITE of what would happen if this measure passes:

Increased Voter Turnout? Berkeley is the only other city mentioned above that requires run-off elections, proposed by this measure for Santa Cruz. Those December elections have a huge drop-off in voter turnout - exactly the opposite of the claim above.

Lower Campaign Costs? Only 432 people voted in last year's district election in Watsonville. The winner spent over $10,000, more than seventeen times as much for each vote as the winner in the last city-wide Santa Cruz election - exactly the opposite of the claim above.

Directly Accountable Councilmembers? Right now seven councilmembers are directly accountable to each neighborhood. If this measure passes, only one will be accountable to each neighborhood. This grants the other six the freedom not to be accountable - exactly the opposite of the claim made above.

Neighborhood Empowerment? These proposed districts were drawn in private by a small group. They lump part of the Upper West Side with UCSC, and spilt the Circles, Seabright and Beach Area - exactly the opposite of the claim made above.

Professional Consultants? The only out-of-town professional consultant reported to have been used in a Santa Cruz city campaign recently is the mid-county political operative advising this measure's supporters - exactly the opposite of the claim made above.

We all support diversity, community participation, accountability, lower campaign costs, and increased voter turnout. This measure accomplishes none of these goals. Please vote NO.
s/ John Laird, Former Mayor of Santa Cruz
s/ Eleanor Wasson, Community Activist
s/ Joseph J. Ghio, Former Mayor of Santa Cruz
s/ Susan Martinez, Union member, Westside Resident
s/ Bruce Van Allen, Software Developer, Former Mayor of Santa Cruz


LESS CHOICE - Now you vote for seven City Council members. Under district elections you will vote for one. You will have no say on six of the seven members. And they will have no reason to listen to you.

ANTI-NEIGHBORHOOD - Neighborhood interests would be shortchanged under district elections. A Council majority could dismiss or ignore neighborhood concerns outside their districts without being held accountable to the voters. District elections will undermine neighborhoods rather than enhance them.

DIVISIVE - Most important issues impact everyone. Councilmembers should care about the whole City, not just their own backyards. Decisions about the downtown, Beach Area, or any part of the City affect all of us. We need all seven Councilmembers committed to working on issues like transportation, water, affordable housing, and efficient public services.

PORK BARREL POLITICS - District horse trading will shut out residents with community wide concerns - environmentalists, seniors, working people, the disabled, lesbians and gays.

UNFAIR TO TENANTS - The ballot proposal requires Councilmembers to give up their seats if they move out of their districts. Housing is very tight in Santa Cruz. A landlord could force a member off the City Council simply through eviction or selling his or her house.

UNNECESSARY COSTS - Special run-off elections in December are expensive, discourage voting, and prolong campaigns. Candidates may have to raise money for two campaigns.

LACK OF CANDIDATES - The best candidates might not always live in seven separate districts.

ILLOGICAL BOUNDARIES - The ballot proposal establishes illogical districts that split neighborhoods - such as the Circles, Seabright, the Beach Area - and combines them with other areas.

District elections will fragment our City, reduce voter choice, and shortchange both neighborhoods and city-wide interests. Santa Cruz is one community. Let's Keep It Together.

s/ Peter Beckmann, Business owner, Eastside resident
s/ Bert Muhly, Professor Emeritus, former Mayor of Santa Cruz
s/ Cindy Geise, Vice President, Mission Street Business Assoc.
s/ Celia Scott, Environmental Attorney, former Mayor of Santa Cruz
s/ Marge Frantz, Lecturer Emerita, UCSC

Rebuttal to Arguments Against

MORE REAL CHOICE - Let's say good-bye to back room politics and slate candidates sponsored by political machines. Your YES VOTE on Measure T will allow you to choose from more local candidates who care about your neighborhood concerns.

PRO-NEIGHBORHOOD - The current City Council majority has mishandled very important neighborhood issues. Traffic, illegal camping and Metrobase are prime examples. A Councilmember elected by Neighborhood district will be your advocate at City Hall fostering better representation and communication before problems get out of control.

UNIFYING - Doing the right thing for each neighborhood is good for the entire city. Councilmembers elected by Neighborhood district will do what's right for the whole community.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY - Unfortunately, under the current "at-large" system, too many voices in our community have gone unheard. Neighborhood district elections provide Fair & Equal airing of diverse issues. More Santa Cruz residents will be empowered, such as those on the Eastside who have been under-represented for well over 20 years.

LOWER ELECTION COSTS - You do the math. Only 3 or 4 Neighborhood districts will be voting every 2 years. Total election costs are reduced.

FAIRNESS - The "at-large" system tends to exclude tenants, students and working class families. Neighborhood district elections will lower campaign costs. On average, candidate costs will be reduced from over $17,000 to less than $3,000, leveling the candidate playing field.

VOTE YES on Measure T.

Please visit our website: or phone 458-4953.

Thank You.

s/ Bruce N. Cooperstein, People's Democratic Club, Co-Democrat of the Year 1999, Mathematics Prof. UCSC
s/ Carol Fuller, Democratic Central Committee Member, Owner Trader Tots
s/ Robert A. Stagnaro, C. Stagnaro Fish Co.
s/ Lisa J. Rose, Past Chair Citizen's Police Review Board, Director - UCSC
s/ Mark Primack, Architect, Former Chair of City Zoning Board

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Created: January 25, 2001 02:34
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