The idea of changing city council elections to favor minority neighborhoods will resurface at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Lawsuit threats have prompted the switch to district elections for Modesto and several area school districts in recent years. But the Turlock and Ceres city councils, the second- and third-largest in Stanislaus County, are inclined to ask voters first, and the issue remains up in the air in Riverbank, the fourth-largest city.
Riverbank leaders did not knuckle under to a demand for change by the Latino Community Roundtable, and in February hired a consultant to analyze the city’s historical voting patterns. If warranted, the contract could include suggestions for creating districts, but numbers in the analysis have proved inconclusive, City Manager Jill Anderson said.
Those numbers should be unveiled tonight in a presentation by the firm, National Demographic Corp., and council members will debate the next steps.
Courts generally have supported the notion, reflected in the California Voting Rights Act, that minorities are better represented when leaders are chosen by geographic area rather than at large. Modesto and several school districts made the switch, while Turlock leaders last month selected a map with proposed council districts and decided to ask voters in November. Ceres’ council last year seemed to favor a vote of the people but never scheduled an election.
Latinos make up about 52 percent of Riverbank’s nearly 23,000 people, and minority representation on the council became an issue in late 2012 and early 2013 when the council could not agree on how to fill a vacancy.
Also tonight, the Riverbank council will consider: