Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 1:09 am | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara OKs District Election Ballot Measure for November Election

Santa Barbara voters will decide in November whether the city should move to even-year elections.

Voters will also choose whether to formally accept the court-ordered district elections settlement, reached by the city in 2015. 

The City Council approved the ballot measures at Tuesday's council meeting. 

The first ballot measure, A, will state: "Shall the City Charter be amended to require City general elections to be held in even-numbered years instead of odd-numbered years?"

The second ballot measure, B, will state: "Shall the City Charter be amended to reflect the City’s court-ordered switch to district elections, with six Council districts and the Mayor elected citywide, and including new special election requirements for Council and Mayoral vacancies?"

Even though the city has already held several district-based council elections, since Santa Barbara is a charter city, voters must still approve the change. Much of the council's debate was over whether the ballot measures should be separate measure or combined into one.  

If the district elections measure fails, it could expose the city to litigation from the activists who forced the city to move to district elections in 2015.

Councilman Gregg Hart opposed the separate ballot measures, raising concerns about one passing and one failing. 

"I think we are asking for trouble having two separate ballot measures," Hart said. 

Councilman Jason Dominguez abstained from the vote.

"I am feeling butterflies in my stomach," Dominguez said. "I am not sure we have ironed out all the wrinkles."

Dominguez suggested that city staff study a "ranked choice" system that allows voters to rank their council candidates. 

"We should spend several months and get the community involved," Dominguez said. "I would be more comfortable if we had time to iron out these wrinkles."

The charter amendment also outlines a process for a special election in the event of a vacancy; Under the proposed charter amendment, the council will hold a special election in the case of a vacancy, unless the vacancy occurs one year or less before the next special election. 

Retired judge Frank Ochoa, who has represented the District Elections Committee at City Hall, said he is pleased with where things ended up. He noted that District 3 voters just elected their council member (Oscar Gutierrez), proof that district elections is working. 

"It's a great outcome," Ochoa said. "The special election was a success. People in the district picked their representative. Now we are building on that. It's new day."

Ken Oplinger, president and CEO of the Chamber of the Santa Barbara Region, opposes even-year elections and urged the council to keep the ballot measures separate.

"The thing that is important to us is that we keep these separate," Oplinger said. "There is solid legal ground to maintain odd-year elections. In the city of Santa Barbara, we pride ourselves on having discussions on things that are local."

Advocates for even-year elections say that voter turnout will increase if city elections are held in even years. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.