Elections

By David Allen, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 03/22/16 – 6:40 PM PDT |

Rancho Cucamonga isn’t the only local city scrambling to implement district elections for its city council due to a legal threat: Chino and Upland are known to be doing the same.

They’re each taking slightly different tacks. You wouldn’t expect Upland to do things like everyone else, would you?

Chino had a special meeting Friday to pass a resolution to pursue districts. Mayor Dennis Yates told me Monday that his council plans to draw the maps, with public participation, and approve them without going to voters.

“It’s going to happen, and rather than waste the people’s money, we’ll just do it. It’s inevitable,” Yates said. “I don’t know if we can get it done for November, but we’ll try to.”

That will require action by mid-June. “We have a lot of work to do,” City Manager Matt Ballantyne said.

Many cities and school districts are being threatened with lawsuits under the California Voting Rights Act because the elected bodies are largely white despite representing large Latino populations. Rancho Cucamonga plans to put districting before voters in November, with the first elections in 2018.

The effect on this fall’s Chino council election is impossible to say, but possibly mind-boggling. If districts are set in time for the election, Yates said the entire current council may have to run again in November. He added that it’s possible the council will decide to expand to “six or eight” members, plus the at-large mayor’s seat.

I asked a tongue-in-cheek question: Has the uncertainty made him reconsider his decision to retire?

“It’s confirmed it!” Yates exclaimed. “Are you kidding?”

Meanwhile, in the City of Gracious Voting, the Upland council will discuss its options next Monday during its 7 p.m. meeting.

“We got the same letter from the same law firm that Rancho did,” City Manager Rod Butler told me Monday. “The cities that had tried to fight have spent a lot of money and lost anyway.”

As fighting is the approach Upland has taken regarding medical marijuana, at first blush it’s refreshing to see them try something new. But hold on.

Butler said that after two closed-session discussions, in February and March, the council is leaning toward putting the matter on the November ballot rather than decide it themselves.

To read expanded column, click here.