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...

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...

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=34001-35000&file=34870-34884

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.
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