Council to decide on number of voting districts at special meeting
As Claremont’s process to voting districts goes forward, the possibility of more councilmembers or an at-large mayor will be discussed in a special meeting this Thursday, January 17, at 6:30 p.m.
The special city council meeting will be the second public hearing to gather input on the city’s transition to by-district elections, where each councilmember represents a different part of town. Currently, Claremont is at-large, where voters select all five councilmembers.
At last week’s city council meeting, the first public hearing on districting, residents Richard Rosenbluth and Susan Schenk brought up the idea of having more than five councilmembers during public comment. The idea, they said, is to make sure the interests of more Claremonters would be represented.
Also during public comment, resident Jennifer Nesslar brought up the idea of four councilmembers from four districts, with an at-large mayor, who would be voted upon by everyone, regardless of residence.
Much of the council did not express an opinion either way on each issue, citing the need for more information. Mayor Pro Tem Larry Schroeder noted he would “keep an open mind” on the idea of expanding the number of councilmembers.
Mayor Corey Calaycay said he was open to all ideas and urged residents to weigh in at Thursday’s meeting. A final decision will be made then, he said.
Meanwhile, Justin Levitt of the National Demographics Corporation (NDC) educated Claremonters on how to draft district maps and submit them for consideration during two meetings on Sunday, January 13 at the Hughes Center and the Blaisdell Center.
At the Hughes Center meeting, City Manager Tara Schultz told the roughly 15 people in attendance that the ideas of and expanded council or an at-large mayor did not come up for consideration before last Tuesday’s council meeting.
Claremonters can draw any number of districts they want on the paper version of the map, provided they have an equal number of citizens in each district. However, the online version of the map, which is linked from the city’s website at claremontca.org/districting, allows for only five districts.
Claremont is moving to by-district elections under perceived threat of litigation from voting rights groups, which have sued local cities for being in violation of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) for having at-large elections. The city has yet to receive a demand letter, but is moving to districts to circumvent the potential costs.
Specifics on maps will not be discussed Thursday.
The special meeting will take place on Thursday, January 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the city council chamber, 225 W. Second St. There will be time set aside for public comment.