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Friday, 16 May 2014 10:53

Comment Deadline Nears for District Election Maps

Written by 
Comment Deadline Nears for District Election Maps Alex Cantatore/TurlockCityNews.com
With one day remaining for Turlockers to comment on a proposed plan to elect City Councilmembers by district, a final public workshop was sparsely attended.

The workshop, held in the Pitman High School cafeteria, was the second of two meetings to discuss the future of voting in Turlock.

Rather than have the entire city elect all four councilmembers, the new district system will likely see residents of four quadrants each elect only their own representative. A mayor would continue to be elected at-large. District voting is said to be more fair to minorities; if the city does not switch, it will likely face a multi-million dollar lawsuit.

Voters will have the final say on the switch to district voting in November. But first, Turlockers are helping to decide what those four districts might look like.

Plan A would, essentially, divide Turlock into geographic quadrants. Plan B attempts to tweak those quadrants to keep some neighborhoods together, like Downtown Turlock and the California State University, Stanislaus area. Plan C takes an entirely different tactic, attempting to center all districts on Downtown Turlock so each councilmember is invested in downtown.

Plan A was the fan favorite at Thursday’s meeting, taking 32 votes. C was a distant second, with 16, while B had just 13.

The results were similar to a straw poll taken at a May 7 public meeting. At that time, both A and C were favored with 23 votes each, while plan B earned just 4 votes.

But each plan has its pros and cons, those in attendance said Thursday.

Bob Endsley, Director of Community Outreach at Century 21 M&M and Associates, favored plan C. He said each councilmember must have a stake in Downtown Turlock to ensure the region’s future success.

“It’s important for the entire community to have representation and involvement in downtown so we can really keep Turlock being the perfect example for the rest of the community, the rest of the Central Valley,” Endsley said.

Others, like Maggie Meija, President of the Latino Community Roundtable of Stanislaus County, supported plan B. She liked how that plan kept industrial areas on the westside together, and united schools with high populations of Latino students.

Former Turlock City Councilwoman Mary Jackson backed Plan A, which she said seemed the clearest and easiest for voters to understand. She said that plan C wasn’t bad, but that plan B could diminish the Westside’s influence in elections due to the inclusion of parts of North Turlock in an otherwise predominantly Latino district.

Regardless of the map selected, Jackson was happy that the City of Turlock is moving forward with the switch to district elections

“I am so glad we are doing this and not being sued,” Jackson said.

All public comment on the plans is due by May 16. Feedback forms are available on the City of Turlock’s homepage, http://www.turlock.ca.us/.

The Turlock City Council is expected to select a map on May 27, and then confirm that decision on June 10. The move would then come before voters on the November ballot.

Should voters approve the shift to district elections, the districts would take effect in 2016 and 2018, gradually replacing existing councilmembers’ seats as their terms end.

Draft Plan A

Draft Plan B

Draft Plan C


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