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Voters will decide if run offs necessary Robert Moreno | Sat, Aug 09 2014 12:00 PM

Chula Vista City Council approved a ballot measure that could do away with a mandatory run-off election to fill a vacancy on the City Council.

That is if voters pass a measure in a November special election.

The initiative proposed by Mayor Cheryl Cox is an effort, she said, to save taxpayers about $1 million to $1.2 million in future special elections.

“I’m concerned about costs,” Cox said. “I’m concerned about a $47,000 ballot or a $74,000 ballot, whatever the cost of the ballot is. Plus whatever the cost is to host elections whereby the council could seat itself with only four members for a full-year.”

Under the current charter it costs about $500,000 to $600,000 to hold a special election. A run-off election costs the same.

The mayor’s original proposal included amending the charter to eliminate a run-off election when a candidate receives a majority of the votes cast in a June general election, but most of the council members disagreed, and modified the initiative to apply only to run-off elections when filling a vacancy.

“I really believe that it is good public policy and good fiscal sense to fix what we can in honoring the wishes of the electorate,” said Councilwoman Mary Salas.

Voters passed Prop. B in November 2012, which makes a run-off election mandatory in a November special election for mayor, council members and the city attorney, even if a candidate received a majority of the votes in the June general election.

In Chula Vista, June elections are called general elections while November elections are special elections.

Prop. B also included district elections in Chula Vista. The changes under Prop. B went into effect this year.

Salas said she supported eliminating a run-off to fill a vacancy because it doesn’t go against Prop. B.

“If you read through the analysis (of Prop. B), nowhere does it specify or make any reference to a special election to fill a vacancy,” she said. “This is why I will be supportive of changing the charter or putting a vote before the people of Chula Vista.”

Robert Ross sits on the Chula Vista Charter Commission and voted against Cox’s original plan.

He said in a 10-year span only once has a candidate won in June and was declared the outright winner.

He also said he would like to see the charter spend more time reviewing the proposal.

Prior to Prop. B, candidates running for office in Chula Vista would win an election outright in June if a candidate received 50 percent plus one of the vote.

For instance, in 2010 Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox won her bid for reelection when she defeated her opponents in a general election by receiving 56.3 percent of the votes.

Because more than 50 percent of the voters elected her, she was the outright winner, negating a mayoral run-off in a November special election.

Councilwoman Pat Aguilar worried that having voters re-vote for a measure is a bad look for Chula Vista.

“The thing that disturbs me most about asking the voters again, in 2014, to revote on something they already voted on in 2012, makes the City Council look like we’re flip-flopping,” she said.

“We put something before the voters in 2012 then we put the same thing before them in 2014.”

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