Electing City Council Members "From" District

When voters throughout Menifee Valley approved cityhood, they also approved a separate measure to elect city council members either "by district" instead of "at large".

But there's a third option, "from district", that may strike a 50/50 balance between those supporting and opposing districts.

Ever since the Menifee City Council first assembled on June 18, 2008, residents have been asking when the council will begin the discussion on drawing district lines. Council members in return have voiced their apprehension (or hesistation) to get this discussion started. Furthermore, council members have explained that districts open up some problems, namely...

  1. Districts must contain an equal amount of residents, and it may be difficult to draw those lines by community.

  2. Districts limit a resident's choice from voting for the best candidate across the entire city.

  3. Districts create a "taxation without representation scenario", whereby city council members from other districts can make taxation decisions on those who did not elect them.

By District versus From District

California State Law allows for cities to decide how it will elect its representatives. If the city chooses to set up city council districts, it then has a choice between "by district" and "from district".

By District is the classic example most of us are familiar with, where each district elects its own city council member.

From District is where each city council member must come from a different district, but is elected at large (across all city residents).

So for example, in the "from district" scenario, each of the five districts could produce a total of four candidates, for a total of 20 candidates across the entire city. The entire city gets to vote on all 20 candidates. But only the top vote getter in each district wins.

Thereby, the "from district" scenario negates the two arguments that district elections denies people from voting for any candidate, and that district elections sets up taxation without representation.

As I said above, California State Law already allows Menifee to have "from district" elections. Several California cities currently run their elections this way, including Alhambra, Compton, Eureka, Newport Beach, San Leandro, Santa Ana, Stockton, Lomita, and Woodside.

You can refer to California's Government Code 34871 which documents this type of council election...


Here's the text of that law...

34871. At any municipal election, or special election held for that purpose, the legislative body may submit to the registered voters an ordinance providing for the election of members of the legislative body in any of the following ways:

(a) By districts in five, seven, or nine districts.
(b) From districts in five, seven, or nine districts.
(c) By districts in four, six, or eight districts, with an elective mayor pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 34900).
(d) From districts in four, six, or eight districts, with an elective mayor pursuant to Article 5 (commencing with Section 34900).

The term "by districts" as used in this article shall mean election of members of the legislative body by voters of the district alone. The term "from districts" shall mean election of members of the legislative body who are residents of the district from which they are elected by the voters of the entire city. "Geographical
area making up the district" shall in the case of elections by district mean the district, and in the case of elections from districts shall mean the entire city except with respect to the residence requirements imposed by Section 34882.

That ordinance may also be qualified for the ballot by means of an initiative measure in accordance with Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 9200) of Division 9 of the Elections Code.


  1. Lets do it.

    From districts!

  2. No. Let us not do it! We need to engage city hall and ask that this be put back to the voters to validate their intent.

    Districting is problematic for a new municipality. There is alot of work that must be done to get things moving in the right direction. Districting will disrupt that effort.

    Riddle me this Batman...Are you going to trust the city council to draw up the boundaries for Districts? I think not! Look up the definition of gerrymandering and then come back with a revised post on this blog.

    I'd rather have the opportunity to vote for five than vote for one. Did you have the right previously to vote for all 5 County Supervisors? No! You only got to vote for one. Having the right to vote for ALL councilmembers to represent you is better than the right to vote for one from a district established by 'them'.

    The biggest driver of 'districts' is population. Do you really want the new City of Menifee to draw up Districts (or Wards or Precincts) based upon the 2000 U.S. Census...? Hello...that was almost 9 years ago. Come on! Lets take this issue back to the voters and validate their intent. I think at the end of that process we would actually end up with 'At Large' representation. And, more importantly, we would end up with representation that can lead us into the next decade.

    Give this existing council time to work through this very important issue. I have talked with a couple of them and I know that they feel strongly about taking this topic back to the voters.

    What do you think?

  3. I agree with points brought out by the 10/16/08 at 7:29 poster. The voters should have another opportunity to reconsider whether or not we have districts. This reconsideration vote is based on the closeness of the vote on June 3and because the issue of cityhood prevailed over other ballot measures. By voting again, the pros and cons can be throughly hashed out.

  4. What is the cost of putting it on the ballot?

  5. The City of Menifee is not ready for By District voting. For now until it gets fully organized it should be At Large. I a couple of years it might be ready for By District.

    Steve I.

  6. It does not matter what you feel Menifee is "ready for." The voters said district so it must be district.

  7. "Give this existing council time to work through this very important issue. I have talked with a couple of them and I know that they feel strongly about taking this topic back to the voters.

    What do you think?"

    If we're going to put districting back on the ballot under the argument that voters didn't really understand it, then you'd have to accept the argument that voters also didn't understand cityhood, and that it too should be put back on the ballot.

    And for that matter, we should put all 20+ city council candidates back on the ballot, because voters may not have totally understood them also.

    The idea that we should re-do elections under the notion that voters may not have understood things, is an insult to the democratic process. Yes, there are people who vote without knowing all the facts, but there are also those who do. It's not the business of government to use that as an excuse to "re do" an election.

  8. Take it back to the voters and put 'at large' or 'districting' on the ballot and make sure everyone understands what they're voting for.

  9. What happens if a District does not have anyone run? What happens if only one person runs and he or she is not qualified? The candiates that did run that live in my area were not the canidates that I wanted to run our new city and they did not get my vote.

  10. That is exactly why we need 'at large' representation!

  11. The candiates that did run that live in my area were not the canidates that I wanted to run our new city and they did not get my vote.

    The candidates running for President of the USA were not the ones I wanted either. If you don't like the candidates running, then run for office yourself. Considering that no one else will be running in your district, you should have no problem getting elected.

    If the current city council is smart enough, they'll draft an ordinance explaining what to do if a district puts up no candidates. The sky is the limit, they could let the sitting councilmember have another term, or the Mayor can appoint a councilmember, or simply leave the seat open, or allow the Mayor to have the tie-breaker vote.

  12. To Steve at Oct. 18 at 7:08pm. Boy, aren't we nasty. I was only saying that I didn't vote for the candiates that came from my area and I am really glad I had others to vote for. And as far as running myself I did look into it but as a family with one income the $600.00 to run wasn't in the budget. I would make a very good City Council Member. Guess I'll just continue to volunteer in the community as I have been doing for the past 19 years.

  13. The delegate district system is a sham and should not be used!

  14. There should be at least one representative for the Seniors, one for Quail Valley, and one for the Romoland area that is now Menifee.

  15. How dare this existing Council insult our intelligence by saying we as voters need more information about this selected process? Give me a break - it's just another way of controlling the selection process - each area has their own unique characteristics and challenges that need to be brought to the table and addressed. With the broad diversification and large area that Menifee covers we need to stick with what the voters put in place. A committee can be established to form these Districts and the sooner the better. Rita Peters, Quail Valley

  16. To "Citizen for At-Large Representation", please just post a link to the article, or quote only a paragraph. I'm trying to cut down on copyright violations.

  17. Citizen for At-Large RepresentationOctober 25, 2008 9:05 PM

    Thanks for the censorship! Here is the link:


  18. Paloma Valley's Luther WilsonJune 08, 2010 10:12 AM

    Well, here it is June of 2010, and the issue is back to the Council.

    A "4 districts and floating mayor" petition has been submitted to the registrar, to have that question put to the voters in November.

    Another group believes that the question of "At Large" should also be put to the voters at the same time. They have asked the Council to take the action of putting the question to the voters.

    Do you think that putting both questions to the voters is wise?