With several resident requests and nearby jurisdictions facing legal challenges based on their at-large election systems over the years, the La Verne City Council consulted with Doug Johnson, the President of the National Demographics Corporation, regarding the City’s election system options in December 2020. The Council determined it prudent to initiate the districting process to prevent any costly potential legal challenges.*
*In addition to the cost of districting, cities served with demand letters mandating they enact districts have been required to pay between $30,000 to over $1 million.
At the July 2021 meeting, the Council unanimously adopted Resolution No. 21-47 which, among other things, determined that it:
- Is in the best interest of the City to move from its current at-large electoral system to a by-district election for all five members of the City Council pursuant to California Government Code section 34886 and in furtherance of the purposes of the California Voting Rights Act; and
- Begin by working with an experienced demographer to assist the City in establishing maps for a by-district electoral system.
As was presented by the demographer during Council study sessions, since the Council placed the matter on the ballot in 1972, they may adopt an ordinance changing it back to not being directly elected. If it had been placed on the ballot by an initiative petition, then it could only be changed by another ballot measure. As a result, when the Council approved the resolution of intent 5-0 in July 2021, they directed the demographer to consider 5 districts.
Similarly to how the process was done prior to moving to an elected Mayor, the Mayor will be selected by the Council Members on an annual basis. The duties of the Mayor include: presiding over the City Council meetings, signing agreements ,and appointing commissioners and committee members with Council approval.
Based on the CVRA, districts are not voted on by residents. However, input is gained through the hearing process outlined above, which provides an opportunity for the community to draw maps and offer comments on draft maps, communities of interest or other considerations. All public input was shared with the City Council and taken into consideration during the map selection and adoption process.
During the process, the City created an independent webpage to house all districting-related information including the hearing schedule, press releases, mapping tools and more. Visit MapLaVerne.org for more information.