The City of Paso Robles is changing who you will have the choice to vote for in upcoming elections.
A legal challenge brought forth by a Malibu lawyer is forcing the city to move to “by-district” voting.
On Wednesday, residents attended the first meeting to discuss the process.
The goal is to create four equal districts by the end of Spring to adhear to the California Voting Rights Act and the city needs help from residents.
The work must be done in order to avoid what could potentially become a staggering lawsuit bill that could run in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
Paso Robles will spend an expected $60,000 during the process as it works to become compliant with state law.
The California Voting Rights Act, which became law in 2003, aims to create district election systems in order to provide more equal representation.
Some California cities have attempted to fight it, only to be forced to change and still end up paying millions.
Lawyer Kevin Shenkman, as he has done against other cities, has brought the same legal challenge to Paso.
The city doesn’t find a problem with its current “at-large” system, allowing all residents to have all options for representation, but it is still moving forward with the change.
“While I realize there may be a need for geographic districts [in other cities], I don’t feel the fact pattern is clear in Paso Robles,” said Jim Cogan, assistant city manager. “I don’t believe Paso Robles has had a true violation of California Voting Rights Act.”
The maps will need to be done by May. The city wants help from residents to determine its communities, where boundaries occur — all the while keeping the respect for voters’ wishes.
“Every map that is submitted will be considered by the council,” said senior consultant Shalice Tilton. “So we don’t weed any of them out. We’re looking for what maps reflect what Paso Robles is all about.”
Each of the four council districts must have equal population, roughly 7,440 residents.
Since the data can only be based off the 2010 census, the maps will need to be re-drawn when the 2020 census is released.
The community is invited to two upcoming meetings to help design the district maps:
- Dec. 10, 2018 – Community Meeting, 6 p.m., Flamson Auditorium
- Dec. 18, 2018 – Public Hearing, 6:30 p.m., City Council Chamber
You can learn more on the city’s website here.