Modesto voters could feel déjà vu when they cast ballots in February's election.
They'll be asked to affirm an advisory vote they took Tuesday calling for Modesto to replace its at-large council elections with district races that require candidates to live in specific neighborhoods.
"The people have spoken," Mayor Jim Ridenour said before the City Council voted to follow up on the advisory vote with a binding measure. "They want to see a change."
The Feb. 5 election will include a City Hall reform package that would increase the mayor's authority, create a salary-setting commission for elected officials and require the council to hire an independent auditor. Modesto's Charter Review Committee drafted the measures with the goal of improving accountability in City Hall.
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Modesto residents rejected district elections in 2001, but approved them by a 14 percentage-point margin in Tuesday's nonbinding vote.
All but three California cities larger than Modesto use district elections to choose council members, though smaller ones rely on at-large systems.
Modesto also is getting pressure to adopt district races from a 2004 lawsuit that seeks them to improve odds for minority candidates.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.