On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, the Pleasanton City Council took the first step toward transitioning to district-based elections which will involve robust community engagement to seek feedback on this community change.
Pleasanton has always had an at-large election system, where voters of the entire City elect the Mayor and all Councilmembers. A district-based election system is one where the city is divided into separate geographic areas or districts, each with one Councilmember who resides in the district and who is just chosen by the electors residing in that particular district. The office of Mayor remains elected at-large by all voters even under a district-based election system.
The City received a letter on August 5, 2021, from attorney Kevin Shenkman asserting that the City’s at-large electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001(“CVRA”). Mr. Shenkman's letter claims that polarized voting may be occurring in the City and threatened litigation absent the City's voluntary conversion to district-based elections for Councilmembers.
During its September 21 public meeting, the City Council adopted a resolution of intent to transition to district-based elections through a transparent and inclusive community engagement process. The City will have until March 19, 2022, to formally adopt the change to district-based elections. District-based elections would then be used for the City's General Municipal Election occurring in November 2022.
In determining what factors should be considered to draw the districts, the City will encourage community input to ensure “communities of interest” are taken into account during this process. A "community of interest" is a neighborhood or community that would benefit from being in the same district because of shared interests, views, or characteristics. Possible communities of interest include:
A professional demographer will be used by the City to create proposed district boundaries. The demographer will ensure that the proposed maps comply with CVRA requirements as well as consider the feedback received from the community during the public hearing process.
The process to establish districts will begin in early 2022 and will incorporate community informational and outreach meetings, online tools to evaluate draft district map options, and public comment to the City Council as to how the districts should be established.
The City Council will conduct four public hearings to receive community feedback on the proposed composition of districts. The first two public hearings will give the community an opportunity to provide input on the composition of the districts before any maps are drawn. Subsequently, draft district maps will be drawn and two additional public hearings (hearings three and four) will be held for the public to provide input regarding the content of the draft district maps and the proposed sequence of elections. The public hearings are tentatively scheduled for the following dates: