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Voters will decide district issue Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Feb 18 2012 12:00 PM

Come November, Chula Vista residents will have the option to vote for the method in which their council members are elected.

Chula Vista Charter Review Commission chairman Randy Bellamy gave a report to the City Council Tuesday from its four-member commission, recommending the council vote in favor of placing a measure on the ballot to potentially change from at large to by district elections.

The issue passed 3-2, with Mayor Cheryl Cox and Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan opposed.

The commission was directed by the council last June to tell them whether the public favors district elections over at large ones.

Currently, council members are elected at large, but Bellamy said some residents would like to see a switch.

Bensoussan said she voted against the recommendation because she did not believe the city council should have a hand in drawing districts.

“I’m a long way from being convinced this is the right thing for the city,” she said.

In six months the commission had seven meetings and received 133 surveys, filled out online, that asked: “Would you consider changing the method that is used to elect city officials? Yes, No or Maybe.”

“The responses we got were basically split,” Bellamy said.

Four members of the public spoke in favor of creating districts.

“Creating districts will allow more people to run for office,” Southwest Chula Vista resident Theresa Acerro said.
Chula Vista resident Joann Fields is also in favor of creating districts.

“If we have our district representative — someone who lives in the area who’s in tune with the community, that would help,” she said.

The City Council budgeted $600,000 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year to put any initiatives on the ballot. If the money is not used, it goes back into the general fund to be distributed for the next fiscal year.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Chula Vista city Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan voted against the Charter Review Commission’s recommendation because she was worried it could be divisive and the measure also wasn’t overwhelmingly desired by the public.

The statement was incorrect.

Bensoussan in fact voted against the recommendation because she said that Councilwoman Patricia Aguilar’s motion to accept the report excluding all other recommendations allowed the council to be more involved in designing its own districts and could have the appearance of politicizing the process.

The Star-News regrets the error.

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Sat, Feb 18 2012 07:18 AM

Regarding the District Debate, while I'm in favor of dividing the city into districts, I am not in favor of spending $100's of thousands of dollars to put the measure on a special ballot. Research has shown that we - the taxpayers - can gain a greater benefit by simply timing the measure with the next election cycle - thereby not paying a premium for the initative. Deferring the matter for one election cycle saves a considerable amount of money and the end objective is still achieved.
Very respectfully,

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