On April 25, 2018, the Santee City Council adopted an Ordinance approving a map that divides the City into four election districts.
By a 3-2 vote, the Council selected what had been labeled “Map B,” which was one of six maps under consideration that met state requirements for equitable distribution of the City’s population based on the 2010 Census.
The Ordinance went into effect on April 25. This means that those running for a City Council seat must run in the district where they reside. The Mayor may reside anywhere in the City because that office will still be elected by voters citywide.
Map B was designed by Mayor John Minto. It places all the current City Council Members in different districts.
Districts 1, 2 and 3 were up for election in 2018. The next term for District 3 will be for just two years, instead of four, and will be filled again in 2020. District 4, which is currently held by Council Member Stephen Houlahan, will be up for election in 2020.
Santee has had at-large, citywide voting for Council seats since incorporating in 1980. However, cities throughout the state have been switching to by-district voting since the adoption of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
What is the California Voting Rights Act?
The California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) establishes criteria in state law through which the validity of at-large election systems can be challenged in court. At-large election systems are the most common method of electing council members. With at-large election systems, voters of the entire jurisdiction elect the members. With a by-district election system, only the voters in a given district vote to choose the council member to represent that specific district. Candidates must live in the district in which they are running for office.
The CVRA was enacted with the specific intent of eliminating several key burden of proof requirements that exist under the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The constitutionality of this act has been challenged and upheld — and since then attorneys have begun filing legal action against cities across the state compelling conversion to by-district systems.