Santa Rosa panel keeps
cumulative vote plan: Voting official fails to sway charter review
committee from quest to put issue before voters
May 29, 2002
Santa Rosa's charter review committee is
sticking to its proposal for a new method of electing City Council
members despite contentions it could be difficult and costly to
Janice Atkinson, Sonoma County's assistant registrar of
voters, Tuesday told the committee that shifting to a
cumulative-voting system could force the city to spend $1.5 million
to buy its own voting machines and to hold its own election on a
separate day from statewide elections in November.
Atkinson's assessment, committee members declined to reconsider the
issue, letting stand last week's 15-13 vote recommending that the
council place the issue before voters in November.
Bob Flores told his colleagues not to be scared away from its
decision by Atkinson's statements, arguing that should voters
approve the shift in the way council members are elected it would
not be implemented until the 2004 November election.
that would give the city plenty of time to find ways to reduce
election costs and to see if elections can continue to be
consolidated with state elections in November.
"We have a lot of
time to figure out if it will work," Flores said.
existing system, which is used throughout the state, if four council
seats are up for election, each voter can cast one vote for each of
Under cumulative voting, a voter could vote for
four candidates or split votes, casting as many as four for one
The system, according to its proponents, would promote
greater diversity among council members by diluting the ability of
large groups to fill every seat while empowering smaller interest
groups to consolidate their votes behind one or two candidates.
council will decide which of the committee's recommendations to
place before voters in November.
The committee's job is to make
recommendations that it believes will make city government both more
efficient and more representative.
The committee already has
recommended substantial pay boosts for council members and the
mayor, and suggested changes that will empower council members to
make individual appointments to various city boards and commissions.
The two proposals are aimed at encouraging a wider array of
candidates to run for office and to increase the racial, gender and
geographic diversity of those who serve on city boards and
In an attempt to expand those goals, the committee
Tuesday recommended that the council seek voter approval for
formation of a 42-member Neighborhood Council.
The proposal by
committee member Bill Carle is to create 14 districts, each with
three council appointees who would meet quarterly to provide input
on neighborhood issues.
Carle also won support for a proposal that
would create campaign spending limits and provide public funding for candidates.