City, LCUSD Board Move Elections to 2020

At the insistence of the state, the City Council and La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board on Tuesday approved resolutions to consolidate their future elections with statewide elections, a shift that will set election dates for even years and add a fifth year to the four-year terms of both sitting council and board members.
The resolutions are in response to Senate Bill 415, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015 aimed at increasing local voter turnout while decreasing local election costs.
The City Council will push back its next municipal election to March 2020, a year later than the previously slated March 2019 election date. LCUSD’s next Governing Board election will be held in November 2020, instead of the previously scheduled November 2019 date.
The council also considered moving elections back by four months, to November of even-numbered years. That alternative would have shortened some of the council members’ terms by four months.
That option was rejected after council members cited concern of “ballot-crowding,” fearing voters would be overwhelmed by measures on the ballot.
Another issue of concern, said councilman Greg Brown — who was appointed in July by council members to fill the vacant seat of longtime councilman Dave Spence, who died in May — was turning city ballot measures into partisan hot-button issues. He referred to LCF’s “historically nonpartisan” elections as a point of pride, noting that in the past, community members have voted on merits, instead of polarizing issues under political contingents.
As far as the fiscal impact, the council said it expects the new election date to cost “somewhat less” than what the city has paid in the past with stand-alone elections, but that also will depend on the number of agencies consolidating with the county, the number of candidates, the ballot measures and polling sites.
LCUSD opted against moving its November elections to March, mostly because holding fall elections when more government bodies are involved to cover expenses is expected to save the district the most money. Also, Governing Board President Dan Jeffries said, the timing would be problematic because board members elected in March still wouldn’t take their seats until December.
“I appreciate that it is a bit awkward at best for us to have to make this decision with regard to what could potentially affect our own terms,” Governing Board member Ellen Multari said. “That being said, I also feel this is in the best interest of the district. This is not a decision I made with regard to my own personal [term].”
Added Dan Jeffries: “This wasn’t our decision to change the election. This is a decision at the state level, and if we do nothing by the end of this month, we will go to the cycle of 2020 and 2022 anyway.”

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