City elections in six months, no calls for district-based system

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Municipal elections are six months away, but as nearby cities and school districts switch to district-based elections, the question remains if Winters will follow suit.

Winters currently uses the “at large” elections system—in a city-wide competition, the five candidates with the most votes are selected to the City Council—but across the state, municipalities are changing to a district-based system in order to avoid violating California law prohibiting discriminatory electoral systems.

The California Voters Right Act—which went into effect in 2002—requires cities that use the at-large system to switch to district elections if minority voices are not included in the electoral process.

District elections divide the city into geographical districts, and each district votes on a single city council member.

The Davis City Council recently voted to switch from an at-large system like that in Winters to a district-based system after a letter from Yolo County Supervisor Max Rexroad threatened to sue the city for discriminating against minority voters, according to The Davis Enterprise.

Rexroad claimed that Davis’s at-large system disenfranchised Asian and Hispanic communities, which comprise 20 percent and 14 percent of the city’s population respectively.

West Sacramento is the only Yolo County city besides Winters in at-large elections, as Woodland switched to district elections in 2013.

Currently, there is no indication that Winters will change its at-large system ahead of the March 3, 2020 elections. Any lawsuit would have to demonstrate that the current system disproportionately represents minority populations.

City officials did not respond to a request for comment on the current electoral system.


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