What was once to be an advisory election about setting districts in elections is now being scheduled to go into effect for the 2016 city council ballot.
A series of Election District Forums concluded last week with a final session hosted at Crossroads Elementary School on Thursday, Oct. 29. It was one of three meetings held in the community during the month of October.
At the forums, according to Justin Levitt, vice president of National Demographics Corp., an amendment to the 2001 California Voting Rights Act is set to go into effect Jan. 1 that allows cities with a population of under 100,000 to skip the advisory vote part of the process and immediately adopt resolutions dividing their towns into voting districts for city elections. NDC has been contracted by the city to assist in drawing up potential district boundary plans, which have been displayed at the forums.
So Riverbank is going ahead with the process, in an effort to get everything organized in time for the June Primary Elections. Boundaries must be drawn and submitted to the county elections office by their deadline to be considered.
At the regular council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 27, the city held its first public hearing on the matter, on the way toward passing a resolution that can become effective soon after the first of the year. Officials said there were few present to speak at the council meeting, either for or against the plan, much like the turnout for the several forums that have been held the past few weeks.
A second public hearing is scheduled for the Nov. 10 council meeting, with the vote soon after.
Creating formal district boundaries will allow only residents from those areas to be elected to represent their neighborhoods.
The current plan proposes eight different ways to break Riverbank into four equal blocks. The law requires they each contain a similar population of registered voters and citizens. It is being proposed that the city retain an at-large mayor, one voted for by everybody.
The present plan calls for the two council seats up for election in 2016 to be elected by district, with the following two determined in 2018, along with the mayor’s seat.
The forums were held in an effort to determine what the voters would like to see as the final alignment of boundaries.