Pomona to hold election in 2012
Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Created: 04/19/2011 08:12:05 PM PDT

POMONA – Voters in this city will have a chance in November 2012 to determine if they want to keep the current system of electing City Council members or make a change.

City Council members this week directed the city clerk to place a measure on the 2012 ballot that calls for modifying the existing system.

If approved by voters, a council member would have to be nominated by fellow district voters and then elected at-large.

Under the current system, candidates are nominated by voters from their district and then elected by district voters.

Council members unanimously approved the item.

Mayor Elliott Rothman was not at the meeting.

The measure’s proponent, resident Vernon Price, was not pleased with Monday’s decision, since he was seeking to have the initiative go before voters this November.

“It’s just an unfortunate situation,” Price said Tuesday.

Council members had two options for placing the measure before voters.

One option was an election this November, or in February 2012 or April 2012, each at a cost of $147,000, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar- Recorder/County Clerk.

The second option was placing the matter before voters in November 2012 during the regularly scheduled municipal election.

The city’s November 2012 general municipal election, where four council seats will be on the ballot, will cost about $93,000, according to the county.

Adding a measure to that ballot would result in an addition cost of only $10,000.

Price wanted the measure to appear on a ballot this November, but City Clerk Marie Macias told council members Monday that “any election other than our regularly scheduled election is a special election and there will be (additional) costs.”

Price said those working with him sought the fall 2011 special election thinking it would have a cost from $37,000 to $57,000.

During the meeting, Price said the cost of a special election came as a surprise.

“The point is, the special election is now a monetary issue,” he said.

Price said Tuesday he and others working on the initiative have concerns about the council’s action.

“First of all, what they did, we think, is illegal,” Price said.

The city might not be meeting state Election Code requirements for placing the matter before voters in a more timely fashion, he said.

The city can place the measure on the November 2012 ballot based on a section of the state Election Code pertaining to amending a city charter, City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman said Tuesday.

Under Section 9255, the election can take place in fall 2012, Alvarez-Glasman said.

Had the measure gone before voters this fall and been approved by voters, the new election system would have been in place in time for the 2012 election cycle, Price said.

With the 2012 election date, changes will be pushed off for at least two years, he said.

In July 2010, Price and other supporters began their effort to collect more than 7,500 signatures needed for the initiative to qualify.

More than 11,400 signatures were collected, of which 8,122 were determined to be eligible registered voters, qualifying the measure for the ballot.

Price said he was troubled by some council members taking time to give their views on the measure rather than limiting their comments to the subject at hand.

“They talked more of their dislike for the petition, which was totally out of line,” he said.

During the meeting, several council members said that going to a system where candidates would be elected by all city voters would increase the costs of running elections.

Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa said under an at-large system she and other council members would not be able to run and be elected, because of the increased expense.

An at-large campaign “requires a lot, a lot of money,” Carrizosa said. “I believe in spending my own money in an election.”

District elections have played a role in making improvements in the city such as sidewalk construction, the addition of street lights, and the opening of community centers – projects that weren’t addressed during the at-large election days of the past, Carrizosa said.

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