District-Based City Elections
The City of Kingsburg is changing the way that City Council members are elected. We need your help in deciding where the district boundaries will be drawn.
Currently, all Council members are elected at-large, meaning that all registered voters who reside in Kingsburg have the opportunity to vote for all five City Council positions. Under the new district-based election system, Council members will be elected by district: Council members will be required to live in the district they represent and will be elected only by the registered voters of that district.
Why is the City of Kingsburg transitioning to district elections?
In 2002, the Legislature enacted the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) (Elec. Code §§14025 – 14032), which prohibits California public agencies, including municipal governments, from imposing or applying an at-large election method “that impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates of its choice or its ability to influence the outcome of an election” (Elec. Code §14027). A protected class is defined by the CVRA as “a class of voters who are members of a race, color, or language minority group, as this class is referenced and defined in the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965”.
In a lawsuit brought pursuant to the CVRA, a plaintiff who establishes a history of “racially polarized voting” under a city’s at-large election system can require a city to change to a district-based election system. Early this year, the City received a letter from an attorney, asserting racially-polarized voting in Kingsburg. On January 16, 2018, the City Council adopted a resolution outlining its intention to transition from at-large to district-based elections, which included specific steps the City will undertake to facilitate the transition, and an estimated time frame for doing so. The CVRA provides that the City must adopt an ordinance implementing district-based elections within 90 days.
How are district boundaries created?
Below are criteria for creating districts:
• Each district must contain a nearly equal population.
• District borders must be drawn in a manner that complies with the federal, state, and any applicable law.
• In establishing districts, the City Council may give consideration to the following factors: topography, geography, cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, compactness of territory, and community of interests.
• The City Council may also establish other criteria, so long as they do not conflict with federal, state, or applicable law.
How will the composition of the districts be decided?
Before drawing a draft map or maps of the proposed boundaries of the districts, the City Council must hold at least two public hearings over a period of no more than 30 days, where the public will be invited to provide input regarding the composition of the districts.
After all draft maps are drawn, the City must publish and make available for release at least one draft map and, if members of the City Council will be elected in their districts at different times to provide for staggered terms of office, the potential sequence of the elections.
After the draft map or maps are published, the City Council must hold at least two additional hearings over a period of no more than 45 days, where the public will be invited to provide input regarding the content of the draft map or maps and the proposed sequence of elections, if applicable. The first version of a draft map must be published at least seven days before consideration at a hearing. If a draft map is revised at or following a hearing, it must be published and made available to the public for at least seven days before being adopted.
The City Council must hold a fifth public hearing prior to adoption of an ordinance that will establish the boundaries of the four election districts for City Council elections beginning with the November 2018 election.
How can I participate in the decision-making process?
The community's input in the development of the voting districts is very important to this process. The City Council held a public hearing on March 7, 2018 and will hold another public hearing on March 21, 2018 before maps are developed to get community input on where district boundaries should be drawn. Draft maps will be developed from these public hearings.
As such, the City has hired a professional demographer to assist wit the process. The demographer will create draft map(s) with five districts that will be presented during the regular April 18 meeting. Citizens will also be able to give input at meetings on March 21, May 2 and May 5.
A final map or maps will go to the City Council for a vote on May 16, 2018.
How often are the voting districts reviewed?
Districts are reviewed every ten years, following the Census.
Where can I get more information?
Information updates will be posted on this website as the transition process moves forward.