Archives for posts with tag: Fullerton District Elections

Marshall 501 Copy

Matthew Leslie

Paulette Marshall Chaffee, wife of current Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee, is evidently so desperate to get elected to the Fullerton City Council this year that she has filed papers of intent to run in District 5. As far as I know, Mr. and Mrs. Chaffee reside in District 2. Ms. Marshall Chaffee filed both a Form 501 Candidate Intention Statement and a Form 410 establishing a candidate committee called “Paulette Marshall Chaffee For Fullerton City Council 2018 District 5.” Candidates may not actually file for the office until this summer. According to law, candidates must be registered to vote in the district in which they intend to run for office.

Fullerton voters adopted district-based city council elections in 2016, but were given only one map, divided into five districts, to approve. One of the lawsuits that prompted the change specifically cited the difficulty Latino candidates have historically faced in at-large elections. Although severely flawed, the map the council ultimately recommended to the voters did at least include a district with a Latino majority—District 5.

Despite Doug Chaffee’s best efforts, District 2, where the Chaffees live, was not selected by the Fullerton City Council as one of the two districts scheduled to appear on the ballot in 2018. The at-large terms of both Doug Chaffee and Greg Sebourn end in 2018.

The question of which two districts would be selected to go on the ballot in 2018 was taken up by the city council last year. On February 21, 2017, Doug Chaffee voted in a majority with Jesus Silva and Bruce Whitaker for Districts 2 and 5 to be up for election in 2018. However, then-Mayor Bruce Whitaker re-agendized the item for the following council meeting. Less than three weeks later, on March 7, he brought the same item back for reconsideration by the council. This time, Districts 3 was selected, instead of District 2, to appear on the ballot in 2018 along with District 5. Jesus Silva and Doug Chaffee opposed the change.

During public comments preceding the March 7 vote, I asked council members to divulge whether or not they were aware of any members of their households who might be planning to run for election to the council in 2018 so the public might consider whether or not any such plans might have a bearing on the decision scheduled to be made that night. No council members responded.

All 79 precinct votes counted, the Orange County Registrar of Voters reports the following results for the contest for three seats on the Fullerton City Council:


More of the same(ish)

Lobbyist mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald was re-elected with the most votes, followed by second place finisher Bruce Whitaker.

Third place went to Jesus Silva, but results are preliminary because not all absentee ballots have been counted. In both 2010 and 2012 post-election night absentee ballot counts moved a candidate up into a winning position, displacing a candidate who appeared to have been successful on election night.  Jesus Silva leads Larry Bennett by a relatively comfortable margin of 779 votes. It will be difficult for Larry Bennett to overcome this deficit, but late absentee ballots generally favor conservative voters.

Larry Bennett was the choice of the establishment axis that gave him the support of retiring incumbent Jan Flory, and Councilmember Doug Chaffee both of whom declined to endorse Jesus Silva.


Measure ii has passed, cursing the city with a horrible districts elections map until at least the next census in 2020.

More on the implications of the election later.





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.




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