Citizen letters – At-Large elections are better for Benicia

By Roger Straw, January 21, 2020

On Tuesday January 21, Benicia’s City Council will consider a proposal to change our electoral process from At-Large voting for Council candidates to four newly-defined small geographical districts.

Benicia citizens are writing letters in opposition and planning to attend at Council.  [7pm at City Hall TONIGHTAgenda and staff reports here]

Here is a sample of recent excellent letters to Council:
  • Sherry Kelly – “I would like to voice my concerns based on my observations as a retired city clerk who has worked for over 30 years both in cities that elect their officials by district and at large and as someone who has been responsible for providing election services for these jurisdictions….” [MORE]
  • Attorney Terry Mollica – “I and many other Benician’s oppose the item referenced above because, as explained more fully below, there is no evidence of “racially polarized voting” within the City, as required by the California Voting Rights Act (“CYRA”) and, even if such evidence existed, adoption of “district-based elections” would not remedy the problem because of the demographics of the voters within the City…”[MORE]
  • Larnie Fox – “I am writing in opposition to any attempt to change Benicia’s voting system from “at large” to “by district”. This issue has been confusing, and the threat of possible lawsuits against the City appears to be serious. The arguments against such a switch are obvious. We are a small, homogeneous town with no known history of “racially polarized voting”, unlike the other towns that have been successfully sued. Our demographics are more like those of Huntington Beach ~ which has so far avoided a suit by responding vigorously to the initial threatening letter….” [MORE]
  • Marilyn Bardet – “While I agree and approve of the intent of the California Voting Rights Act, to protect against racial bias in elections, Benicia, being a small city, does not have the demographic profile nor voting history, as Terry’s research suggests, that would trigger such need to change to district elections….” [MORE]
  • Ralph Dennis – “The Council should vote NO to proceed with changing the election of council members from at-large to district-based elections. Benicia’s demographics, and the results of BUSD’s recent change to district elections for its Board members, demonstrate that (1) the conditions under the CA Voting Rights Act requiring such a change do not apply in Benicia, and (2) even if they did moving to district elections would not resolve the problem as the revised BUSD districts show.” [MORE]