Claremont council selects map for district-based elections

After weeks of deliberating, the Claremont City Council decided on a district map for future municipal elections.

The city council narrowly voted 3-2 to approve map 124a, which was drafted by National Demographics Corporation (NDC). Mayor Corey Calaycay and Councilmembers Ed Reece and Jed Leano voted in favor, while Mayor Pro Tem Larry Schroeder and Councilmember Jennifer Stark voted against.

Map 124a features a combination of “regional” versus “vertical” map styles, and was presented as a compromise between those who wanted either one.  The proposed regional maps grouped neighborhoods with shared interests in districts geographically, while the vertical map styles presented districts in longer strips from top to bottom in an effort to create more diverse voting blocks.

District one extends from the Wilderness Park and Claraboya to the north, down south to Arrow Highway, between Indian Hill Boulevard and Mountain Avenue. District two occupies the northeast corner of Claremont, from Mount Baldy Road along the east side of Mills Avenue down to Sixth Street. District three is a rectangular area in the middle of town, from Miramar Avenue to the north, Indian Hill to the west, Mills Avenue to the east and Sixth Street to the south.

District four starts just south of the 210 freeway, with Mountain and Cambridge Avenues to the east, the Pomona border to the west and Arrow Highway to the south. District five occupies much of south Claremont and the old commercial part of the Village, from Sixth Street in the north, and the Pomona border in the south and west.

The council also decided to hold council elections in districts one and five for 2020. Mr. Calaycay and Mr. Schroeder both live in district one, though Mr. Schroeder announced Tuesday that he would not be running for re-election. The three newly-elected councilmembers reside in each of the three remaining districts—Mr. Reece in district two, Ms. Stark in district three and Mr. Leano in district four.

The district map slices the Claremont Colleges into three separate districts—almost all of Pomona College will be in district five while the others would be split between districts two and three. Doug Johnson of NDC noted throughout the process that the Colleges represent a high population but a small number of actual voters. Keck Graduate Institute will be in district one.

Pilgrim Place will be split into two districts—district one and district four. This was per the request of a number of Pilgrims, including Gene Boutilier, who noted at the January 24 meeting that Claremont’s beloved retirement community should be split up so more council candidates could campaign there.

The Village will also be split up between three districts. The “old Village” commercial area will be in district five, and Village West will be in district one. The residential part of the Village will be split between districts three and one by Indian Hill Boulevard.

This was a point of contention for Mr. Schroeder, who favored a map with a more unified Village. He favored map 110, a “regional” style map that had all of the Village in district four and all of south Claremont in district five.

Ms. Stark favored map 114a, a vertical map that was the only one that split south Claremont in two equal areas. She said she “bristled” at the idea of one south Claremont district, noting that two districts would promote collaboration and a variety of concerns.  

While the council still has to approve the ordinance at its second reading, Tuesday’s meeting was the crescendo of a whirlwind 90-day process that began on November 24, 2018, when the city passed a resolution of intent to move from at-large to by-district elections.

Under by-district elections, council candidates must live in a certain district, and only residents who live in that district vote for them.

The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) mandated the model as a way to curb vote dilution of minority groups. City officials claimed throughout the process that Claremont was in danger of getting served a demand letter that would force the city to make the transition, but no formal demand letter was received.

More on this story will be available in this week’s edition of the COURIER.

Matthew Bramlett



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