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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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Local

City of Santa Ana
Measure AA - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

35,027 votes yes (63.3%)

20,351 votes no (36.7%)

100% of precincts reporting (78/78).

Shall City of Santa Ana Charter sections 101.2 and 400 be amended requiring City Councilmember election from his or her residency ward and only by registered voters of that ward, instead of City Councilmember elections by registered voters of the entire City, with ward boundaries to be drawn as required by law?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

yes vote is a vote in favor of changing city council elections from at-large (citywide) to by-ward.

NO vote means

no vote is a vote against changing city council elections from at-large (citywide) to by-ward.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Santa Ana City Attorney

Measure AA was placed on the ballot by the City Council of the City of Santa Ana. It proposes to change how Santa Ana city council members are elected. Currently, all council member candidates must be a resident of the ward from which they are running and must be nominated by voters residing in that ward. All voters may vote for any candidate regardless of where that candidate lives in the City.

Measure AA proposes to amend Section 400 of the Santa Ana City Charter to change the method of election to be “by district” or in Santa Ana’s case, “by-ward.” If adopted, the Measure would require that each council member come from one of the existing six wards. Only voters residing in a ward would elect the council member for that ward.

If Measure AA is approved, the “by-ward” elections will apply to candidates running for City Council in the City’s general municipal election in November 2020. Current council members with time remaining in office will continue to serve until they complete their respective terms. Measure AA is not intended to and it will not amend the term limits that apply to Council Members under the provisions of the City Charter.

Measure AA will not change the at-large voting method for electing the mayor. The candidates for Mayor may reside anywhere within the City’s boundaries and all voters will be eligible to vote for mayoral candidates regardless of where they live in the City.

Measure AA also proposes to allow for a change to ward boundaries when necessary to comply with the requirements of state and/or federal law.

Measure AA also proposes to amend Section 101.2 of the Santa Ana City Charter requiring ward boundaries to be drawn and adjusted to the requirements of state and federal law.

In summary:

A “YES” vote on the measure will change how city council members are elected from “at large” to “by district—by-ward” under existing ward boundaries. Only those voters within a council ward would elect the council member for that particular ward. It will also require ward boundaries to be drawn and adjusted according to the requirements of state and federal law.

A “NO” vote on the measure would not change the current method of electing city council members. Each council member would continue to be nominated from an existing ward and elected “at large” by the voters citywide. Ward boundaries would not be altered except as reasonably necessary to promote greater equality of population among the wards when such necessity is shown by the most recent federal decennial census, or by more current census data certified by the City Council as sufficiently reliable and detailed to serve as a basis for ward boundary alteration, or by annexation or consolidation of territory.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Vote Yes on Measure AA. Elections by Ward/District:

Bring government closer to the people:

  • With ward/district elections, your neighborhood will have someone to stand up for you at city hall.
  • City council members are able to have closer contact with their constituents and more in-depth understanding of the neighborhood’s needs. This improves responsiveness and accountability from their city council.
  • Ward/district elections ensures that city council members are answerable to the neighborhoods they represent. Most cities similar in size have adopted district elections to ensure a more fundamentally fair and equitable form of government.

Prevent Undue Influence from Special Interest Groups:

  • Currently, candidates must raise thousands of dollars to effectively campaign and communicate with approximately 350,000 residents.
  • Last election cycle, more than $400,000 was spent by special interests to buy Council seats.
  • District elections takes the importance of money out of elections, and allows independent candidates to campaign competitively by simply walking their district neighborhoods, and talking to voters in their district.

Provide better representation for people:

  • Ward/District elections allows community candidates to run and have a higher chance of winning.
  • Ward/District elections enables candidates to focus their efforts and finances on their neighborhoods rather than costly citywide elections.
  • As recently as 2016, a majority of voters in a Ward/District voted for a specific candidate. However, because the rest of the city voted differently, the residents in that Ward/District did not receive their representative of choice.

Fix Santa Ana’s Election System:

  • Currently, Santa Ana’s at-large election system violates the California Voting Rights Act by preventing certain groups of residents from holding office and limiting diversity on City Council.
  • Legal fees to defend our illegal election system will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

 

The following individuals signed the official argument in favor of the measure:[1]

  • Vicente Sarmiento, Santa Ana city council member
  • David Benavides, councilman, city of Santa Ana
  • Erika Carranza, Santa Ana voter
  • David Hoen, Santa Ana resident
  • Kenneth K. Nguyen, Santa Ana planning commissioner

 

— Ballotpedia

Arguments AGAINST

Vote NO on Measure AA

Since 1988, City of Santa Ana councilmembers are elected by a citywide at-large vote, required to reside in one of six council wards, and can only serve 12-years. Ward boundaries are redrawn every ten years coinciding with the US Census.

Current Ward boundaries were drawn with US Census data from 2010 as per the City Charter. An election without data from the 2020 US Census would be in contradiction of the City Charter, which has served the city well for the past 30 years.

Ward elections fail to hold each elected councilmember accountable to a citywide at-large voter. It would cause segregation by pitting ward against ward instead of “for the greater good of the city,”

Why act in haste with something that will drastically affect our neighborhoods with minimal input from the community? The 2020 US Census is imminent; follow the City Charter to accurately redraw Ward boundaries.

Voting NO on Measure AA keeps the current 12-year term limit cycle intact, ward boundaries will remain based on the current US Census data, and council accountability with the citywide at-large voter. Every VOTER will continue to have a voice in their neighborhood that will represent their interest. Every current and future councilmember will and should be held accountable to the VOTER regardless of their Ward.

 

The following individuals signed the official argument against the measure:[1]

  • Debbie McEwen, president, Historic French Park

 

— Ballotpedia

Replies to Arguments FOR

Bring government closer: FALSE

 

Councilmembers are currently responsible to their ward and the entire city. Ward elections would allow small special interest groups to control other neighborhoods. This will divide the city and neighborhoods.

 

Prevent Undue Influence: FALSE

 

Money  does  not  buy  an  election,  it  must  be  earned.  A  former councilmember spent less than FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS for a successful citywide campaign.

 

The only special interest influence is three termed out councilmembers who voted in the majority 4 to 3 to spend $202,148 of your TAXPAYER DOLLARS for a failed June 2018 election. This was an attempt to reset their term limit and stay in office.

 

Provide better representation: FALSE

 

Ward elections fail to hold each councilmember accountable. It will cause isolation by pitting ward against ward instead of a city-wide common purpose.

 

A councilmember won an election with less than $500 dollars in a citywide race. Because some candidates have failed to get elected doesn’t mean the system is broken.

 

Fix Santa Ana’s Election System: FALSE

 

The current all minority city council reflects Santa Ana’s at-large election system.

 

Three termed out councilmembers attempted to declare our election system illegal to justify an attempt for “Election by Ward” measure in June 2018.

 

City Charter determines new ward boundaries based on current US Census data every ten years. The year 2020 will provide the most current data.

 

Vote NO on Measure AA

 

s/ Debbie McEwan

President, Historic French Park

— Ballotpedia

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The Argument against Measure AA is intentionally misleading.

 

Here is the truth:

 

Santa Ana’s Current Election System is Outdated and Violates the Law:

 

  The City’s current at-large election system violates the 2001 California Voting Rights Act by preventing certain resident groups from holding office and the City is facing a lawsuit as a result.

  I am writing to encourage...the City Council to immediately begin the process of addressing Ward Specific Elections, and to begin to address any...Violations of the California Voting Rights Act. (Letter from Congressman Lou Correa dated July 2017)

  In Santa Ana, the at-large election system has impaired the ability of the Asian American community to elect candidates of its choice. (Letter from Asian Americans Advancing Justice dated March 2018)

 

District/Ward Electlons Avoid a Potentially Costly Lawsuit:

 

  Attempting  to  defend  the  current  citywide  at-large  system

would be very costly. The City of Anaheim spent approximately

$2.47 million in legal fees attempting to prevent Ward/District Elections.

 

Measure AA DOES NOT EXTEND TERM LIMITS!

 

  Based on the City’s Charter, the only way to change term limits is

to have a separate vote specifically on term limits.

  This propaganda is being used by special interest groups to mislead and distract voters because no valid reason exists to oppose Measure AA.

 

Ward/District Elections Ensure Accountability:

 

  District Elections make every Council member accountable to address the needs of residents living in the district they were elected to represent.

  Most cities similar in size have adopted district elections to ensure a more accountable representation.

 

s/ David Benavides Councilman, City of Santa Ana

 

s/ Vicente Sarmiento Councilmember, City of Santa Ana

— Ballotpedia

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