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Council hands district question to voters Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Aug 11 2012 12:00 PM

Following turbulent discussion among Chula Vista City Council members regarding a proposed ballot measure that would amend the city’s charter, the dais reached a majority decision.

After providing their own suggestions last month on how to implement district elections, council members ultimately chose to follow recommendations from the city’s Charter Review Commission for the November ballot measure.

The commission was tasked with working out the details for the potential implementation of district elections, if passed in November by a majority of voters.

Included was their proposal to create a commission of up to 10 people that would establish district boundaries. Those individuals would in turn choose the remainder of the group.

Some council members, including Patricia Aguilar, switched gears from leaning toward a hybrid form of district elections last month.

Considerations included council member eligibility requirements and a mandatory run-off election between two top vote getters in a June election.

During discussion, judges, the city clerk and other suggestions were thrown in as to who should draw district lines.

However, commission chair Randy Bellamy said a commission is the most transparent.

“We reviewed the older proposals and discussed options for creating the districts,” he said. “…We felt that by asking citizens to step up and serve on the commission — that would be the best way to achieve that (transparency).”

Regarding the phasing-in transition for district seats, the majority of council members supported the 2016 phasing-in for seats 3 and 4 and phasing in seats 1 and 2 in 2018.

Councilman Rudy Ramirez said if passed, it’s not necessary for district elections to be implemented right away.
But councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan said that some council members were trying to remain unaffected.

“If people vote for this the reasonable expectation is that it would be instituted in a timely manner,” she said.

In addition, the council voted that a mandatory run-off would affect the mayor and city attorney, beginning in 2014, and that a person who wins with 50 percent or more of votes in June is required to do a run-off in November.

The final ballot language and resolution will be given to the county registrar today.

In related news, the council voted to retain outside counsel regarding Prop. C, a ballot measure that seeks to reduce the city attorney’s salary, implement term limits and hire a legislative counsel when conflicts of interest arise within the City Attorney’s Office.

City Attorney Glen Googins provided a memo to council that listed four attorney options who would assist with the preparation of Prop. C.

While Thomas Brown of Burke Williams & Sorensen provided legal advice about Prop. C in February, the council opted for a more local, less expensive option by retaining Jim Lough from Lounsbery, Ferguson, Altona & Peak.

Castaneda suggested that Ramirez and Aguilar work with Googins and Lough, directing them to come back within 30 days.

Ramirez suggested an ad hoc committee be formed, which is expected to be discussed Aug. 14.

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