City Council to Address Move to Even-Year Elections (SB 415) at Jan. 23 Meeting: Part 1

Want to weigh in? Send comments to sb415@redwoodcity.org

The City Council will continue discussions around SB 415 — the California Voter Participation Rights Act — at the Jan. 23 Council meeting. SB 415 is a State law that aims to improve voter turnouts by combining local elections with statewide elections.

This legislation prohibits some local governments, including Redwood City, from holding an election on any date other than a statewide election date (June or November of even-numbered years). The City currently holds its municipal elections in November of odd-numbered years, and it must have a plan to change election cycles by Jan. 1, 2018. Read more here.

At the Oct. 17 meeting, the City Council discussed a recommendation by the appointed SB 415 Council Ad Hoc Committee. The Committee recommended introducing an ordinance to extend each Council member’s term by 12 months. This would move the November 2017 election to November 2018, and the November 2019 election to November 2020.

After Council discussion and public input, Council decided to continue the item pending more information regarding the feasibility and cost impacts of holding all-mail elections in 2017 and 2019. They also requested research on how other jurisdictions were handling their compliance with SB415, which directly impacts City election costs.

At the Jan. 23 meeting, staff will report their findings so that Council can continue discussions around two primary compliance options:

• Consolidate the 2017 election with the 2018 statewide election, the approach recommended by the City Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee, charged with evaluating how to comply with SB 415. This would require extending current council members’ terms by 12 months; or

• Hold elections in 2017 and 2019, with five-year terms for Council members.

The public may provide input on these options by sending an email to this address: sb415@redwoodcity.org.

Stay tuned for another update (Part 2) next week, which will provide updated information on election costs and approaches taken by other jurisdictions. The comprehensive staff report for the Jan. 23 meeting will be available Jan. 19 on the City Council Meetings, Agendas and Minutes web page.