Among the public speakers who addressed the Elk Grove City Council at its Oct. 23 by-district boundary map hearing were residents who oppose California Northstate University’s (CNU) proposal to have a hospital built in the Stonelake neighborhood.
The council decided on whether to keep their current district boundaries or to select one of two alternative maps.
During the meeting, various speakers, including members of Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency (NEST), protested a redistricted map, which would have divided Laguna West among two council districts. NEST was organized in protest of the proposed hospital.
The map also eliminates the opportunity for certain voters who oppose Council Member Darren Suen for allegedly supporting CNU’s proposed hospital to participate in next year’s District 1 election. He plans to run for re-election in that district in 2020.
Stonelake resident Gary Sibner expressed his dissatisfaction with the idea of relocating the Stonelake neighborhood from District 1 to Council Member Stephanie Nguyen’s District 4. He questioned whether the proposed map change was created for political reasons.
“District 1 comes up for re-election in 2020; District 4 does not. But you already know that,” he said. “By adopting the map, you will disenfranchise thousands of voters in Stonelake from our right to add our voice and our vote in 2020.
“By removing Stonelake from Council Member Suen’s district, it also removes substantial opposition to him for his actual or perceived support for CNU. Whether that is the intent or not, the optics are bad, and it just doesn’t pass the smell test.”
NEST member Daisy Hughes stressed her desire to vote in an election for her next council representative in the 2020 election.
“Our community is in the process of potentially changing, and we want to be able to have a voice in this process, and so we absolutely need to be able to vote in 2020,” she said.
If the alternative map dividing Laguna West had been approved by the council, Stonelake residents would not have had the opportunity to vote for their council member until the District 4 election in 2022.
Council Member Steve Detrick responded to speakers’ concerns about the possibility of not being able to vote in 2020.
“Right now, if we go (to a) by-district system, two of the districts aren’t going to vote for any of the council members,” he said. “So, somebody’s not going to be able to vote. Right now (with the now-former voting system), everybody has that opportunity.”
Though certain speakers’ said the alternative map would benefit Suen in the upcoming election, he did not support that map.
“I agree also with my colleagues and folks (who spoke at the meeting), the original map is fine,” Suen said.