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City of Watsonville Mayor Rotate Initiative Amendment, Measure I (June 2014)

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A City of Watsonville Mayor Rotate Initiative Amendment, Measure I ballot question was on the June 3, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County, California, where it was approved.

Measure I required a rotating mayoral position, meaning that the council member from each of the seven city districts now will have a turn serving as mayor over time. Prior to Measure I, the city charter required the mayor to be elected from among the city council members by the city council.[1]

Measure I was one of three ballot initiatives put on the ballot by the group called Let The People Vote. The other two measures were called Measure H and Measure J. All three were approved.[2]

Election results

Measure I
Approveda Yes 2,681 60.72%
Election results from Santa Cruz County Elections Office

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[1]

Shall Sections 500 and 504 of the Watsonville City Charter be changed so that the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore are required to be selected in numerical order according to the District number where they reside rather than elected by the Council? [3]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis of Measure I was prepared by the office of the county counsel:[1]

Citizen Initiative – Charter Amendment

Signatures were gathered to place Measure I on the June 4, 2014, ballot to ask Watsonville voters to approve a Charter amendment to change how the Mayor is selected in the City of Watsonville. This measure would amend Sections 500 and 504 of the Watsonville City Charter.

A city charter is in effect a city’s constitution. The Watsonville City Charter was adopted in February 1960 and has been changed by the voters from time to time since.

The City was sued in 1985 because its charter provided for city-wide election of councilmembers and city-wide election of Mayor. Most of the case was eventually decided by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court decided that the City’s Charter violated the Federal Voting Rights Act.

The City then agreed to settle the case by changing several sections of the City Charter including Section 500 regarding selection of the mayor and agreeing to district instead of city-wide elections of councilmembers. The stipulation and order provided, “The City Council shall elect one of its members who shall have the title of Mayor.” The changes to Section 500 were set forth in a stipulation and order of the United States District Court. The City has followed this stipulation and order since 1989.

Before 1989, the Mayor was elected directly by all voters in the City. Since the 1989 stipulation and order, the Mayor has been elected by majority (4 of 7) of the Council pursuant to Section 500. This measure would change the 1989 stipulation and order as set forth in Charter Section 500 by creating a mandatory rotation process by district. Should this measure pass, the Council must appoint as Mayor the councilmember from the district that has gone longest without its councilmember serving an entire year as Mayor. Thereafter the Mayor must be appointed each year in numerical order by district. There are seven council districts.

Since 1989, the Mayor Pro Tempore (Vice-Mayor) has been elected by majority vote in the same way as the Mayor. This measure would change the 1989 stipulation and order and Charter Section 500 by creating a rotation process according to district. This measure provides that the Mayor Pro Tempore shall be the councilmember from the numbered district one digit after the Mayor’s district. For example, if the Mayor is from District 2, the Mayor Pro Tempore shall be from District 3; and if the Mayor is from District 7, the Mayor Pro Tempore must be from District 1.

The measure would be permanent. It will remain in effect until or unless changed by the voters.

A “Yes” vote is a vote to approve the ordinance and adopt this new method of selecting the Mayor. A “No” vote would reject the change and maintain the present method.

This Measure would be approved if a majority (more than fifty percent) of those voting vote “yes.” [3]

—Alan J. Smith, City Attorney, [1]



The group behind the initiative was called Let the People Vote.

The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure I:[1]

  • David H. Perez, retired judicial officer
  • Rhea DeHart, Watsonville Park/Recreation Commissioner
  • Betty Bobeda, former Watsonville Mayor
  • Lorraine E. Stucki, former president of the Bay Village Homeowner Assn.
  • William Murphy, former Watsonville Mayor

Arguments in favor

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument in favor of Measure I:[1]

Let The People Vote— YES — on Measure I
  • Restore the People’s right to FAIR representation.
  • Retain each resident’s hope for EQUAL opportunity.
  • Rebuild trust in the selection PROCESS for Mayor.

Thousands of Watsonville signatures were collected to allow each & every city voter the right to have their voices heard!

MeasureI… is the direct result of this amazing grassroots effort. You now have the ability to take back your rights for fair & equal treatment for ALL the PEOPLE of Watsonville:

Vote YES on Measure I —— for HONESTY
Vote YES on Measure I —— for INTEGRITY
Vote YES on Measure I —— for JUSTICE

Measure I… will end the controversial practice of the current Mayoral selection process. Instead, the Mayor & Vice-Mayor will rotate annually among all seven City Council Districts.

Simple. Fair. Equal. Inclusive.

Measure I… will prevent potentially discriminatory practices by providing a reliable and orderly process. No longer will a small handful of politicians determine who your Mayor is going to be. This fair rotation procedure will prevent any secret back room deals, undue special interest influence and charges of nepotism.

Measure I… is an important step in taking back our basic rights as City residents. Watsonville voters need to stay alert, engaged and vigilant over our local government.

PLEASE SUPPORT the “Let The People Vote” effort by voting YES on MEASURE I

RESTORE INTEGRITY. Be an integral part of changing the City of Watsonville for the better.

Let’s work together for Honesty, Integrity and Justice!


—David H. Perez, Rhea DeHart, Betty Bobeda, Lorraine E. Stucki and William Murphy, [1]



The following individuals signed the official arguments in opposition to Measure I:[1]

  • Isaac Rodriguez, community volunteer
  • Leah Sugarman, educator and mother
  • Pedro Castillo, retired university professor
  • Dobie Jenkins, community volunteer
  • Rev. Joseph R. Barndt, pastor

Arguments against

Opponents of the group Let the People Vote and its three initiative measures argued that, while the group claimed to be a volunteer, grass-roots effort, it was actually just a puppet for outside interests. Critics posited that an organization called Capitola hired paid signature gatherers to put the initiatives on the ballot in order to impose its own ideology on the people of Watsonville.[1]

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument against Measure I:[1]

We respectfully urge you to vote “NO” on Measure I.

Running a city requires leadership and consensus-building skills. Measure I will not give us the best leader to run our city.

Measure I conflicts with a 1989 federal voting rights court order that requires the Mayor to be selected by the city council. Measure I will result in a councilmember becoming Mayor only because of his/her city council district number, rather than having leadership and consensus-building skills and earning the vote by your own elected-representatives.

Measure I will result in new, unexperienced councilmembers immediately becoming Mayor due to only their council district number. This is not wise. We should keep our current method of picking our Mayor based on experience and leadership ability.

Measure I is not a “volunteer” effort as claimed. Most signatures were collected by paid signature gatherers hired by a group based in Capitola. This secretly-funded, Capitola group is now trying to impose on Watsonville residents what it wants. The Fair Political Practices Commission is currently investigating this group regarding possible violations of campaign reporting and transparency laws.

Vote “NO” on Measure I. We should continue to have a city Mayor that is a team leader and can lead our city by building consensus and agreement. [3]

—Isaac Rodriguez, Leah Sugarman, Pedro Castillo, Dobie Jenkins and Rev. Joseph R. Barndt, [1]

Let the people vote

Measure I was one of three ballot initiatives put on the ballot by the group called Let The People Vote. The other two measures were called Measure H and Measure J. Measure H required council member vacancies to be filled by an election. Prior to Measure H the city charter allowed the remaining city council members to appoint someone to fill the vacancy. Measure J required public places to be named through an election of the people, instead of being named by the city council.[2]

Similar measures

Approveda City of Watsonville Vacancies Filled by Election Initiative Amendment, Measure H (June 2014)
Approveda City of Watsonville Mayor Rotate Initiative Amendment, Measure I (June 2014)
Approveda City of Watsonville Naming of Public Places Initiative, Measure J (June 2014)

See also

External links

Suggest a link

Additional reading


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Santa Cruz County elections department, Measure I voter pamphlet information, archived April 15, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Watsonville Patch, "Let the People Vote," accessed April 18, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.