The Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) board on Nov. 6 will have their sixth and final public hearing on the board’s future election maps. They may choose one of four proposed maps that contain the district’s new election districts.
The meeting’s outcome could impact which voters in the 157-square-mile district can participate in the board’s November 2020 election.
The CSD operates the Cosumnes Fire Department and Elk Grove’s parks and recreation system. Their board in February voted to reform its elections to the “by-district” system, where voters can only choose among candidates running in their local election district.
CSD board members were previously elected by voters across the district, and they did not represent specific election districts. Under the new system, the board must create election districts and then decide which districts they will each represent.
Advocates argue that the by-district system can reduce campaign costs, hold board members more accountable to voters, and attract candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Andres Ramos, a 2018 Elk Grove City Council candidate, often spoke to the CSD board this year about why by-district elections are needed.
“If you call a (local) representative, they have a special obligation to help you,” he told the CSD board on Feb. 20 when they voted 4-1 to reform its election system. “If everyone represents me, in a sense no one represents me.”
The CSD board’s outspoken proponents of by-district elections include Rod Brewer, Orlando Fuentes, and Jaclyn Moreno.
Fuentes warned his colleagues the CSD could face legal action if it did not change its elections to by-district.
Kevin Shenkman, a Malibu-based attorney who has sued cities across California for not having by-district elections, warned the city of Elk Grove this year that the Elk Grove City Council’s “from-district” election system violated the California Voting Rights Act and claimed the system disenfranchised Elk Grove’s Latino voters. The city has a large Latino population, but there are no Latinos on the current council.
The City Council last month chose the by-district system, which will go into effect next November.
The CSD board this summer held public hearings on their November 2020 election’s proposed election maps.
Consulting firm Redistricting Partners proposed four election maps to the board - each map has five election districts that were drawn to have roughly equal numbers of registered voters. The population count is based on the 2010 Census. Board members may have to redraw the new election districts for the 2022 election after the 2020 Census data is released.
On Nov. 6, the CSD board will also consider which board seats will be up for election next year. Directors Gil Albiani, Fuentes, and Jim Luttrell will have their terms expire in November 2020. The board has the option of either putting up those seats up for election, or placing all five seats up for election next year.
If the board chooses the five-seat election, it will have to decide which seats will have a two-year term and which seats will have a four-year term, according to a CSD staff report. Brewer and Moreno won last year’s election, and therefore they will have two years left in their terms during the 2020 election year.
The costs of running the board elections will vary for the CSD. District staff estimated that a three-seat election will cost $63,000, while a five-seat election could cost up to $105,000.
The CSD board’s Nov. 6 meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the CSD Administration Building, 8820 Elk Grove Blvd. For more information on the new election system, visit the CSD website, www.YourCSD.com.