District Elections in Fullerton might have been a good way to elect a more diverse council that would better reflect the ethnic makeup of the city, but the map adopted by the Fullerton City Council to effect that change, as reflected in Measure ii, is so bad that voters should vote against it.
Measure ii proposes splitting up Fullerton into five separate voting districts, each of which would elect a single member to the Fullerton City Council. It came into being as a result of two separate lawsuits claiming that the current system of at-large elections disenfranchises minority voters, in this case Latino and Asians, by diluting their votes in a citywide election. Dividing the city into different districts was meant to remedy the problem of underrepresentation on the city council by establishing individual districts that would presumably allow members from Latino or Asian majority districts the power to elect council members of their choice.
The settlement agreement with the plaintiffs who sued the city to force district elections required that the city adopt a map to put before the voters, along with the question of whether or not to adopt the district system at all, resulting in Measure ii. Unfortunately, Fullerton’s City Council adopted a map so bad that even people who support the concept of district elections should vote against Measure ii to prevent the adoption of this map.
When presented with numerous maps following a months-long process that involved both public workshops and the opportunity for anyone to submit a map using online software from the city’s website, the Fullerton City Council selected a map put forward by the owner of a downtown bar and restaurant, someone who acknowledged that he didn’t attend a single community workshop. Instead of serving to establish community-based districts that preserve neighborhoods and followed natural boundaries, this atrocious map cuts through neighborhoods and conveniently separates current council members’ residences form one another, keeping them from having to run against one another in the future.
It’s backers make the absurd argument that a few streets and intersections that comprise Fullerton’s downtown, now largely an entertainment district, should be split up five ways to give every resulting voting district a “voice” in what goes on there. The effect, of course, is just the opposite. The slender tendrils that stretch into the downtown area from every edge of the city split up the whole historic downtown residential neighborhood area, splintering the voices of thousands of residents into five other districts instead of giving them a district of their own. Not uncoincidentally, the greater downtown corridor streets are where most of the high density developments are planned. Robbing downtown area residents of a single unified voice in the planning of this area does a disservice not only to these voters, but to the entire city itself.
Readers may reference an earlier post by the Rag that counters the disingenuous argument made by our current Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald, in favor of Measure ii:
District Elections will almost certainly come to Fullerton soon, as they have to Anaheim, Garden Grove, Buena Park, and other nearby cities, but we don’t have to adopt a terrible map that serves the interests of a few business owners and incumbent council members to get there. The Rag strongly recommends voting NO on Measure ii.