David Mendez

Redondo mayor vetoes Council’s term extension decision

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by David Mendez

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand. File photo

Redondo Beach Mayor Bill Brand vetoed direction by the Redondo Beach City Council to prepare a ballot measure to change the City Charter-established election dates. City Council terms would have been extended by one year, and then revert back to four-year terms beginning with the March 2020 election cycle.

The measure would have put the City into compliance with SB 415, a statewide mandate to realign municipal election dates with statewide votes. It would have faced a city-wide vote as early as June 2018.

“Elected officials extending their own terms by one year without voter approval is unnecessary at this time, undemocratic and disenfranchises the voters,” Brand wrote in a veto letter submitted to the City Clerk on Wednesday, which he later posted on Facebook. (The letter text has been posted, in full, below the story.) “SB415 is an unfunded State mandate that requires charter cities to hold at least one extra election to ask the voters to amend their charters to align their cycles with that of the State.”

The motion, proposed by Councilman Christian Horvath at the Nov. 21 City Council meeting, was considered to be the most cost-effective, according to an analysis by Councilwoman Laura Emdee,  because it would put the city in immediate compliance with state law and align with state and county elections, lowering costs to the city.

It would have cost the city $2.3 million over four cycles, including runoff elections, according to Emdee’s estimation. It would begin with the March 2020 race for Districts 3 and 5, as well as the City Clerk and City Treasurer seats.

The extension plan was considered less expensive than a motion by Councilman Nils Nehrenheim that would have also shortened terms to three years. Nehrenheim’s proposal was estimated to cost the city $3.5 million over four election cycles, including runoffs.

“A simple solution…is to maintain existing term lengths and hold elections as currently scheduled in March 2019 and 2021, and then reduce the next terms by one year to three years (to 2022 and 2024 respectively), one time only, to align with the future Statewide elections in March of 2022 and 2024 as required by SB415,” Brand said.

The Los Angeles Registrar of Voters estimates that a March 2019 mail-in ballot election would cost the city $260,000. That figure does not take into account costs for runoff elections.

SB 415 is intended to improve voter turnout in municipal elections by aligning them with larger state and federal elections, which typically have the highest turnout.

According to City Clerk data, over the past four election cycles, average local voter turnout has sat around 28.27 percent in general elections, and 29.12 percent in run-offs, compared to 65.15 percent in statewide general elections.

Brand closed his letter by recommending the item be placed on an upcoming City Council agenda “in time to act promptly to comply with SB415.”

 


 

Brand’s full veto letter, as posted on Facebook:

I just veto’d the changes to our election cycle the Council voted to adopt last week, 3-2. We don’t need to extend our own terms by a year to comply. There are alternatives.

Veto of Election Cycle Changes to Align with SB415
November 29, 2017

Elected officials extending their own terms by one year without voter approval is unnecessary at this time, undemocratic and disenfranchises the voters. Therefore, I hereby veto the action of the City Council on November 21, 2017 to adopt Resolution CC-1711-212 in order to align the City election cycle with that of the State, according to recently enacted SB415, to even-numbered years by extending the current terms of the City Council and School Board by one year. There are alternatives as described in the staff report on November 21st, and discussed in the meeting on that date.

A simple solution to maintain the length of the existing terms as understood by the candidates and the voters when the elections were held in 2015 and 2017, and also conforms with having a plan by January 1, 2018 that delays conformance with State election cycle until 2022, and conforms with our City Charter that currently requires runoff elections if no one candidate receives greater than 50% of the vote in the primary canvass of voters, is to maintain existing term lengths and hold elections as currently scheduled in March 2019 and 2021, and then reduce the next terms by one year to three years (to 2022 and 2024 respectively), one time only, to align with the future Statewide elections in March of 2022 and 2024 as required by SB415.

The Los Angeles Registrar of Voters has estimated that a mail-in only ballot in March of 2019 will cost $260,000. There is no cost estimate available for the 2020 or 2021 elections.

While runoff elections would be 8 months later in November of even years, there is time for legislative amendments to shorten this time frame, as well as the possibility for incorporating instant runoff capabilities in the future.

SB415 is an unfunded State mandate that requires charter cities to hold at least one extra election to ask the voters to amend their charters to align their cycles with that of the State. The election to amend the Redondo Beach City Charter should be held in June of 2018. There is currently no remedy if the voters reject to amend their charter to align with the State election cycles.

This item should be placed on an upcoming City Council agenda for reconsideration in time to act promptly to comply with SB415.

Bill Brand
Mayor
Redondo Beach
November 29th, 2017

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