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District Elections and "Communities of Interest"

Share Your "Communities of Interest" with the City to Help Shape Future Council Districts

Post Date:August 30, 2019 3:46 pm

Davis Residents:

As you may have heard, the City is shifting to district elections for our City Council members to comply with the California Voting Rights Act. This is a significant change, which may have large impact on community representation. The goal of the California Voting Rights Act is to address vote dissolution and discrimination. The City is asking for input from residents to help shape the districts in ways that reflect our community values.

The City has started outreach efforts for the conversion to district elections scheduled for November 2020. Currently, the City elects its Council Members through an at-large election system. This means that each Council Member can reside anywhere in the City and is elected by the registered voters of the entire City. In a district election system, the City is divided into separate geographic districts. Each Council Member is elected by the registered voters of the particular district in which the Council Member resides. Voters do not vote for candidates outside their district. The City has contracted with a demographer to analyze the data points allowed in the California Voting Rights Act, as well as information provided by residents, when drafting district maps.

As part of the district election process, the City is asking for community input on residents “Communities of Interest.”  A Community of Interest (COI) is any cohesive group of people that live in a geographically definable area and could be considered as a potential voting bloc in current or future elections. The California Voting Rights Act requirements are based on population in Davis, not registered voters or immigration status. We are asking for all residents to provide their Community of Interest.

Some Communities of Interest are considered “protected classes” in that they have rights through state or federal civil rights or voting rights laws. Some examples of protected classes in districting would be ethnic and racial minorities, such as a concentration of Latinx, Asian or African American people. Protected classes can be described through public input, and there is information that must be used wherever applicable to define these areas and make sure that they are not being harmed by the district boundaries.

There are other COI that can also be considered in districting, but don’t have the higher legal requirements as ethnic or racial minorities. Identifying these other COI are still critical to the process.  These could be clusters of senior citizens in one community, a group of college students living in a densely populated area near a campus, people who live in the downtown area or a specific neighborhood, or even people who share concerns such as parents with young children, bicycle enthusiasts, topic interest group, etc. 

Please take a moment to complete the Community of Interest worksheet. The worksheet can be submitted on the City's website, emailed to districts@cityofdavis.org, or dropped off at City Hall.  To have your comments included in the information used by the demographer, please submit them by September 20, 2019. The City Demographer will consider this input when drafting district maps.

The City has scheduled several public meetings that residents may attend to provide input on the process. The schedule for outreach meetings is as follows:

Tuesday, September 3
Public Hearing at City Council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Boulevard. This item is scheduled to be heard at 7:20 p.m.  Actions: Receive general input, identify communities of interest, and consider district criteria.  City Staff Report (PDF).

Tuesday, September 10
Public Hearing at City Council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Boulevard. Actions: Receive general input, identify communities of interest, and consider district criteria.

Saturday, September 21
Community Workshops at the Davis Senior Center, 646 A Street. Drop by any time between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. There will be presentations on the process at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 8
Public Hearing at City Council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Boulevard. Action: Initial draft of district maps will be reviewed.

Tuesday, October 22
Public Hearing at City Council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Boulevard. Action: Council to select district maps.

Tuesday, November 5
Public Hearing at City Council meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Boulevard. Action: Council to adopt ordinance establishing district elections.

City Council meetings are televised live on City of Davis Government Channel (Comcast Channel 16, AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 - scroll to select "Davis Community Channels" and then select the City Government Channel).  You can also view the meeting live online.

Information Resources:

District Election website: cityofdavis.org/districts
City Council Agendas & Staff Reports: cityofdavis.org/councilagendas
Email:  districts@cityofdavis.org
District Elections Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)
Elecciones De Distrito Preguntas Frecuentes (PDF)
Community of Interest Worksheet (PDF)
Formulario De Comunidades De Interés (PDF)

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