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League of Women Voters Holding Community Forum on Proposed District Elections for Santa Barbara

A community forum will be held by the League of Women Voters from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Louise Lowry Davis Center, 1232 De la Vina St. in Santa Barbara, on the topic of “Should the City of Santa Barbara Return to District Elections?”

The Jan. 21 forum is free and open to the public. Those attending can bring a brown-bag lunch with drinks and dessert provided. Parking behind the center is free during the meeting.

The question of proposed district elections versus at-large voting will be addressed at this noon forum panel discussion by the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara. Speakers will be the following: Ariel Calonne, Santa Barbara city attorney; Shane Stark, former Santa Barbara County counsel and president of the LWVSB Education Fund; Sheila Lodge, former mayor of Santa Barbara, and Jacqueline Inda, one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the city’s current at-large voting system. A question and answer period will follow.

Attorney Calonne will discuss the effect of the lawsuit on the city, while Stark will give an overview of the California Voting Rights Act and how it impacts cities. Lodge, who is also a former LWVSB president and life member, will speak on the merits of at-large elections. Inda will discuss the reasons for the suit against the city and why she supports district elections. This lawsuit against the city is scheduled to be heard by Judge Donna Geck in April.

The Santa Barbara City Council has decided to put the question of district elections on the November ballot. The council will discuss the process of redistricting at its Jan. 27 council meeting.

The LWVSB is now engaged in a local study on whether to change its 1968 adopted position in favor of at-large elections. The league’s April Unit meetings will continue this discussion of district versus at-large voting. Such a change in position would be made by consensus at the league’s annual meeting in June.

— Cheryl Rogers represents the League of Women Voters.


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