View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


UPDATE: Districts fail in quest to change election dates

Adds details throughout

Posted: April 30, 2013 11:53 a.m.
Updated: April 30, 2013 7:02 p.m.

An attempt by local school and water districts to change their election dates from odd-numbered to even-numbered years failed to gain approval from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday due to concerns with the capacity of the county’s ballot, officials said.

This means elections for the Castaic Union School District, College of the Canyons, William S. Hart Union High School District, Newhall School District, Saugus Union School District, Sulphur Springs School District and Newhall County Water District will continue to be held in odd-numbered years.

“I’m certainly disappointed in the outcome, but I’m also grateful that the six districts in the Santa Clarita Valley worked together for a common cause,” Hart district Superintendent Rob Challinor said Tuesday.

Newhall district school board member Sue Solomon, who spoke before the board Tuesday, said she was disappointed by the vote but that it now falls on school districts to get the word out and increase voter turnout.

“We have to reach out to the community ourselves,” Solomon said.

The vote on the matter was 2-2-1, with Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich and Don Knabe voting to change the election dates and Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky opposing the change. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas abstained.

Antonovich voted for the change because he understands districts’ concerns about low voter turnout and the costs associated with running an election, said his spokesman Tony Bell.

“The supervisor believes this was a common-sense proposal that has been done in other areas,” Bell said.

The Newhall County Water District was also denied in its attempt to change election dates.

While the water district was motivated by a desire to increase voter turnout, there were also some financial concerns, according to Newhall County Water General Manager Steve Cole.

Newhall Water would have to pay more to put on an election if the six school districts had changed their election dates, Cole said Tuesday.

“I’m a little bit disappointed,” Cole said of the board vote. “But it wasn’t really something that was do or die for our district.”

Having local district elections in even-numbered years would put those races on the same ballot with state and federal issues, such as presidential elections. This, in turn, would increase voter turnout, according to the districts.

But consolidating elections onto one ballot would also strain capacity of the county’s system, which is largely based on 1960s technology that restricts ballots to no longer than 12 pages, according to Dean Logan, the registrar-recorder/county clerk for Los Angeles County.

Logan wrote a memo to the board recommending denial of the election date changes due to these capacity constraints.

With consolidation no longer an option in the short term, it falls on districts to find other ways to boost voter turnout, Challinor said.

“We would like to see a big voice from our residents in deciding local elections,” Challinor said Tuesday.

Voter turnout is typically low in local-issue-only elections. In the 2011 school board elections, no candidate in the Hart district, Saugus district or Sulphur Springs district received votes from more than 10 percent of registered voters.

But not all local school board members are lamenting the supervisors’ denial.

Hart district board President Joe Messina voted against changing the election dates in February and said Tuesday he still prefers having smaller, local elections.

“Personally, I love the fact that we have a local election,” Messina said Tuesday. “When you’re talking about more than 70 items on the ballot in most cases, think about the voter fatigue behind that.”

Along with increasing voter turnout, each district stood to save some money from the change, with estimates in savings ranging from $25,000 for the Newhall School District to more than $100,000 for the Hart district, according to documents from the school districts.

These savings would come from the county footing a share of election costs, since the registrar-recorder’s office runs even-year balloting throughout the Santa Clarita Valley except for town council and Santa Clarita city elections.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...