In a 3-2 vote, the Carson City Council seemingly ended more than two years of debate Aug. 4 and made the formal decision to change the city’s elections to a by-district system, beginning this November.
However, the decision was thrown into question at the very next meeting on Aug. 18, when the council voted for reconsideration of the decision.
The City has been embroiled in a lawsuit that alleges the City is violating the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) with its current election system. The reconsideration of the Aug. 4 decision prompted a scathing letter from the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and a subsequent court hearing on the matter on Aug. 21.
This remains a complex and very controversial issue, with outstanding legal questions. As of this writing, however, Carson has duly enacted district elections for the November 2020 cycle.
The City Council voted to adopt a district map with four evenly sized districts by city population. The boundaries in this map are currently being used for the November 2020 election. The Mayor is still elected by a citywide vote.
If the initial Aug. 4 decision holds, voters in North Carson will elect councilmembers during Presidential election years, which historically have much higher voter turnout. Councilmembers Jawane Hilton and Cedric Hicks both qualified to run in these newly created District 1 and 3 seats, respectively, this cycle. While voters in South Carson would elect their council representatives during mid-term elections, which have historically lower voter turnout. Councilmembers Jim Dear and Lula Davis-Holmes reside in those District 2 and 4 seats and both face re-election in 2022.
In a fascinating wrinkle, both Dear and Davis-Holmes have filed to run for mayor this year, against Mayor Al Robles. Because neither Dear nor Davis-Holmes is due up for election until 2022, they will retain their spots on the council, even if they lose their mayoral bids. City employee and current President of AFSCME Local 809, Ana Meni, has also filed to run.
Councilmembers Hicks and Davis-Holmes opposed implementing council districts on Aug. 4.