The City Council voted Tuesday, April 23 on a resolution that begins the process of transitioning City Council elections from at-large to district-based beginning in November 2020.
With council’s approval of Resolution No. 11155, Orange is poised to join a growing number of cities in Orange County and throughout California that have transitioned from at-large to district-based elections. Locally, the latest cities to transition to district-based elections include Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Lake Forest and Stanton.
“The California Voting Rights Act favors district-based elections, and the time has come for the City of Orange to take this step,” Mayor Mark Murphy said.
The potential change to the City’s voting system comes as numerous California cities have been hit with legal challenges to their at-large election systems. The California Voting Rights Act suggests, among other things, that at-large elections can be disadvantageous to certain minority populations.
Orange voters have a rich heritage of electing Latinos, and directly elected the first woman mayor in Orange County. During the last 51 years, from 1968 through today, there has always been at least one Councilmember of Latino descent on the Orange City Council, demonstrating that the City’s at-large voting system is one in which the Latino community has thrived.
Resolution No. 11155 cites the “extremely expensive” costs associated with legal challenges -- even if the city ultimately prevails. Moreover, it notes that even a “successful defense would not prevent a different plaintiff from suing the City” in the future.
The City of Orange takes tremendous pride in being inclusive and representative of all residents in our city. That representation includes acting in a fiscally responsible manner in all city affairs.
The next step will be the City retaining a qualified demographer and other consultants “to provide a detailed analysis of the City’s current demographics … to prepare a draft map that divides the City into voting districts” according to guidelines and procedures contained in the Federal Voting Rights Act and California law.
As part of the process of defining the voting districts, the City will hold a series of community meetings to seek input from residents. These community meetings will help ensure the district maps reflect and represent the community.
Please keep checking the City's website and social media channels (click here) for information regarding upcoming community meetings related to the establishment of voting districts. For more information, please call the City Manager’s office at (714) 744-2222.