At-Large City Council Elections in Menifee, Measure DD (November 2010)
Although Measure DD received a majority of affirmative votes, its provisions are in conflict with the provisions of Measure AA, which received more affirmative votes. Measure AA says that members of the Menifee City Council will continue to be elected by district.
Menifee City Council members are currently elected by district. This means that voters in each of city's five districts elect their own representative to the city council. This so-called "by-district" election arrangement was chosen by the city's voters in 2008 when the city was officially incorporated. The November 2, 2010 general election of city council members is the first time it will be used. (See Measure G.)
If Measure DD had received a majority of votes and more affirmative votes that Measure AA, "by-district" election of city council members would have been abolished and in its place, the city would have adopted the so-called "at-large" method of electing members of the city council.
There are 5 representatives on the Menifee City Council, and 4 of them voted to put Measure DD on the ballot.
Measure AA received slightly more affirmative votes (14,361) than Measure DD (14,181) and, as a result, where the provisions of the two measures are in conflict, Measure AA's provisions take precedence.
Election results are from the Riverside County elections division as of November 24, 2010.
Ken Laymon was an opponent of Measure DD. He said:
- "In 2008, voters approved council elections by district because they recognized the demographic and spatial diversity within the city of Menifee and understood the importance of each community or population group having a voice on the council. If council members are elected at large, they can effectively ignore issues that concern some residents within the city while focusing their attention on neighborhoods or areas where they may have stronger voter support. In short, they would not have to represent all of the residents in order to be re-elected.
- "The current Menifee City Council, substituting arrogance for leadership, has fought relentlessly since the cityhood election to reverse the decision voters made on this issue."
- See also: 2010 ballot measure litigation
Remove from ballot
The group "Citizens for Fair Representation" filed a complaint in Riverside County Superior Court seeking to prevent the ballot measure from going on the ballot. Anne Pica, head of the group, said, "...you can't put at-large back on the ballot because districts were voted in by the people, and you don't have the right to overthrow their vote."
The lawsuit was filed with Pica, Ruth Goulet, Greg August, Chuck Reutter and John Smelser as plaintiffs. They said in their lawsuit that Measure DD violates California Government Code 34871.
On September 8, Riverside County Superior Court judge Sharon Waters said that Measure DD could appear on the ballot. Waters said that while Measure DD might, in fact, be invalid, it is generally better for courts to consider such matters after, not before, voters have had a chance to weigh in on the measure.
The Waters decision was then appealed to the California Fourth District Court of Appeal. On September 29, that appellate court upheld the lower court's decision to keep Measure DD on the ballot.
Bekki Kroencke asked the Riverside County Superior Court to change language in the ballot arguments submitted by Measure DD opponents which she said in her court filing was inaccurate and misleading.
Kroencke specifically objected to information submitted by Measure DD opponents and attributed to Douglas Johnson, president of National Demographics Corporation. The objected-to-statement said that "Menifee would eventually be forced to adopt a district form of government because of recent changes to the California Voting Rights Act."
The outcome of the legal challenge is that both parties agreed to remove references to Douglas Johnson from the ballot argument.
Kroencke said of the agreement, "I'm more comfortable with the passage that says this is what they believe and not Doug Johnson. I can't dispute what they think they heard."
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Measure DD: Shall the members of the legislative body of the City of Menifee be elected at large?|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Press Enterprise, "Menifee council approves at-large election ballot measure; lawsuit planned", August 3, 2010
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Californian, "Compromise reached on ballot measure language", August 30, 2010
- ↑ North County Times, "Menifee's measure 'DD' illegitimate in many ways", August 29, 2010
- ↑ Press Enterprise, "Judge allows at-large choice on Menifee ballot", September 8, 2010
- ↑ Press Enterprise, "Court upholds Menifee at-large ballot measure", September 30, 2010