Santa Maria is transitioning from an at-large voting system to a district-based election process. This week the city is hosting the first in a series of public hearings to explain the process, answer questions and get input from the residents on how the new district maps should be drawn.
Since 1905, Santa Maria city council members have been elected on an at-large basis. But when residents vote for their city council members in 2018, those candidates must live in the district he or she represents. And those districts must be drawn to make sure each has an equal population and diverse ethnic makeup among other factors, say city officials.
The change comes after a city council candidate in the Nov. 2016, who lost the election, argued the current at-large electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act. As more and more cities face legal challenges to at-large system, the Santa Maria city council voted in February to change to a district-based system.
Thursday’s (March 30, 2017) public hearing starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Building at 313 W. Tunnel Street in Santa Maria.