The Monterey City Council will vote tonight on a resolution that would drastically alter the future composition of the council itself. Instead of councilmembers being elected from the city at-large, the five positions would have to each come from five discrete districts in the city.
Currently, Monterey’s five councilmembers all live in just two (out of 16) of the city's distinct neighborhoods: Oldtown and Monterey Vista.
The move comes after a Sept. 25 letter to the city from Andrew Sandoval, director of the Salinas-based chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, which argued the city’s at-large electoral system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, and threatened to sue the city.
That letter came after another letter in 2020 from Monterey residents Rick Heuer, Tom Rowley and Richard Ruccello, who are all white, which made similar arguments.
If the City Council approves the proposed resolution tonight, it would start the process to implement a district-based election system that would divide the city into separate geographical areas of equal population, composed of voters residing within the district who would then elect a candidate who also resides in their district.
If approved, Monterey’s staff is required to complete the process by early February 2022.
In that time, the city, per a Nov. 15 statement, will hold a minimum of five public hearings and engage with the public over a 90-day period “to gather input on communities of interest, and how councilmember districts should be defined, drawn and adopted.”