LocationAlhambra , CA United States
The Alhambra City Council voted unanimously on Monday night to negotiate with the Grassroots Alhambra* non-profit over provisions in a ballot measure that would cap city campaign donations at $250 and change the city’s voting system from at-large to by-district.
Alhambra Mayor Jeff Maloney and Councilmember David Mejia were designated to negotiate on behalf of the City Council, who also recommended hiring a facilitator to run the talks. Both groups would have until the City Council meeting on June 10 to agree on a measure that would be placed on Alhambra’s November 2020 ballot.
California cities like San Diego and Santa Monica have adopted campaign contribution limits in recent years. Other cities have also changed their at-large voting system, where city council members are elected by the entire city to represent a certain district. Advocacy groups have argued that this system disadvantages people of color from being elected to local seats.
Grassroots Alhambra argued that Alhambra’s at-large voting system favored candidates who were already wealthy or could raise the most money, by forcing candidates to campaign throughout the city rather than only focusing on their district. City officials like Mayor Maloney said that at-large voting empowered City Council members to make decisions on behalf of the entire city, rather than just their district.
Grassroots Alhambra collected signatures for this measure during the summer and fall of 2018, gathering enough signatures for the measure to qualify for either the March or November 2020 election. The City Council opted to schedule the vote for November, expecting increased voter turnout. Holding the vote at the same time a the presidential election would add on an incremental cost, rather than organizing a separate election, which could cost more than $100,000.
Councilmember David Mejia volunteered himself and Mayor Maloney to represent the City Council, citing past support for the ballot measure from his colleagues Katherine Lee and Adele Andrade-Stadler, during their City Council campaigns.
*Full disclosure: Grassroots Alhambra President Eric Sunada is a member of the Alhambra Source advisory board. Advisory board members have no editorial control or access to stories before publication.