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Hammering out district details Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Jul 21 2012 12:00 PM

After hearing an initial report about proposed district elections for Chula Vista, the City Council decided Tuesday they want voters to determine if a hybrid form of voting will work for them.

The move came after the council provided extensive, and occasionally convoluted, direction to city staff and the charter review commission about how to draft the ballot measure language.

In the end, the council suggested voters should vote by district during the June contests and then have the winner of those district contests decided in a citywide vote in the fall.

Councilwoman Patricia Aguilar proposed the hybrid option.

“The problem is not having a system where someone can get elected with a small percentage of the votes,” Aguilar said.

Chula Vista Mayor Cheryl Cox said if there is a strong candidate who runs well, the person should earn the right to not have to compete in November.

Councilman Steve Castaneda, who supports district elections, proposed having a primary in June and a general election in November.

“I want to see the highest turnout,” he said. “As long as it all occurs by the time the next census is taken, as long as we can do something legal.”

If voters approve moving to a district-election procedure, Councilman Rudy Ramirez said that creation of the districts should be de-politicized.

The charter review commission, which was charged with gauging public interest in district elections and creating a transition plan, proposed creating a commission of up to 10 people who would establish district boundaries. Those individuals would in turn choose the remainder of the group.

“Whatever this council decides tonight and going forward, it cannot effect or benefit or diminish any particular council member,” Ramirez said.

Charter review commission chairman Randy Bellamy suggested judges or the city clerk could create district maps.
If voters decide they want to have district elections, the process would start with the 2014 election cycle and transition through 2018.

Specifically, district elections for seat 1 would be held in 2014; seat 2 in 2018 unless the seat is vacated earlier, and seats 3 and 4 in 2016.

Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan asked City Attorney Glen Googins to draft options to determine who would establish district boundaries in time for the Aug. 7 council meeting.

The council is expected to approve the final language for the ballot measure at its first meeting in August.

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