After Turlockers voted to approve Measure A on the November ballot with a nearly 74 percent vote, city council candidates will now be charged with running in their home districts in future elections rather than the current at-large election system that lets the top two candidates take the seats.
In May the City Council approved a district boundary map that divides the City of Turlock into four quadrants. In accordance with state and federal laws each district is approximately equal in population and the boundaries can be adjusted every 10 years based on new census data. The approval of Measure A prevented Turlock from facing potential litigation from minority-advocate groups who have sued cities throughout the state, such as Modesto who spent $3.7 million on the case, for violating the California Voting Rights Act by having at-large election systems.
While mayoral candidates will continue to be elected by all city voters, the city council candidates will only be allowed to run for the position in the district in which they reside. There will be a transitional period, however, until the 2016 election which could potentially complicate the recently elected candidate’s decision to run in the future.
According to the city ordinance, “During this period of transition, each Council member elected at-large in the regular municipal election of November 2014 will be designated by the Council as the council member representing District One or Three in the district plan whether or not that Council member resides in the district.” This means, that should recently elected council members Bill DeHart or Matthew Jacob live in a district other than one or three, they have the right to serve four year in their appointed district. However, if their home districts were either District Two or Four and they wanted to run for that district, they would be charged with doing this while simultaneously occupying District One of Three according to City Manager Roy Wasden. However, in a random case of serendipity, Jacob lives in District One and DeHart lives in District Three.
“I would imagine that the council would take this into consideration when appointing the new candidates to the districts,” said Wasden.
If either candidate moved in the course of their term and won election in their new home district their vacant position in One or Three would be filled in compliance with the laws of election likely through a special election or council appointment said Wasden.
Council Members Amy Bublak and Steven Nascimento’s terms will expire in 2016 when District Two and Four’s seats are up for election. Nascimento resides in District Four meaning that he could seek reelection in a natural four year progression. However, Bublak resides in District Three so she could potentially face a two year break between the end of her current term and the start of her district election term in 2018. Should she and Council Member DeHart both seek reelection in 2018 they would run against each other.