Turlock City Council to hear public input on switching to district elections

03/18/2014 7:49 PM

03/18/2014 7:50 PM

Meetings this week will give residents a chance to weigh in on the idea of district elections for the City Council.

Turlock is among many cities and school districts looking at changing from at-large elections, which critics say do not provide enough representation for minorities. Later this year, the council could consider putting a detailed plan before voters in November, City Manager Roy Wasden said Monday.

The series of meetings started Monday night at California State University, Stanislaus, and will continue through Thursday at other sites.

Wasden said the switch could cost the city up to $60,000, including a consultant who will analyze demographic data and look at possible district lines. Part of the cost would be for the November election, but it would be relatively low because races already are scheduled for mayor and two council seats.

The change to districts, if approved by voters, likely would take place with the 2016 and 2018 council elections. The mayor still could be elected at large, or the council could appoint a member to the post, depending on the details of the ballot measure.

The Latino Community Roundtable has sent numerous letters advising local bodies that they could have to switch to district elections to comply with the California Voting Rights Act. The Modesto City Council has moved to this format, as has the Turlock Unified School District board of trustees.

Wasden said the council likely will hold more meetings on the topic before a possible June vote on placing the matter on the ballot.

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