At present, the five trustees hold numbered seats but are elected at-large by all voters in the Santa Clarita Valley.
In pursuit of a settlement of a voting-rights lawsuit filed against the district by local Democratic activists Jim Soliz and Rosemarie Sanchez-Fraser, trustees agreed last month to change to a system where each seat will be decided by just one-fifth of the electorate.
The board will hold a public hearing Oct. 13 at 6:30 p.m., at which time it will “receive public input and testimony regarding proposed trustee areas.”
Part of the process is selecting a trustee-area map. A demographer has compiled statistics for the district and prepared three alternative maps, which can be accessed here:
Why is the Santa Clarita Community College District implementing by-trustee area elections?
The District is changing its election system because its election practices were challenged in a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act. The lawsuit was settled, and the terms of the settlement provided for changing the way District elections were conducted. In addition to implementing by-trustee areas, the district eliminated the numbered-seat trustee election system and moved its elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years.
Why are district board elections being moved to even-numbered years?
The district is moving its election dates to coincide with statewide general election dates, which occur in even-numbered years. More people tend to vote in statewide elections, so moving district board elections to even-numbered years will likely lead to increased voter participation in district board elections.
What is the process for implementing by-trustee area elections?
To use a by-trustee area election system, the Board of Trustees must define the boundaries of each trustee area. It does that by hiring a demographic consultant to develop maps showing the proposed boundaries. The Board will then hold at least three public hearings to give members of the public an opportunity to view and comment on the proposed boundaries. That feedback will be considered by the board and can be used to make adjustments to the maps. The Board approves final versions of the maps. They are then sent to the state Chancellor’s Office for approval by the Board of Governors (BOG) of the California Community Colleges. Once the Board approval is secured, the new areas can be implemented in time for the November 8, 2016 election.
How can I provide input to the proposed trustee area boundaries?
Members of the public are invited to attend any of the three upcoming hearings where the boundaries will be discussed. See “Public Hearings” at right.
What is the timeline for developing and implementing the by-trustee area boundaries?
* Oct. 6, 2015 – Initial draft trustee area plans made publicly available.* Oct. 13, 2015 – First public hearing, where demographic consultant presents initial draft trustee area plans; Board solicits public comment on draft plans; Board may request modifications to any of the plans.
* Oct. 21, 2015 – Second public hearing on draft plans; Board may order further modifications to any of the plans.
* Nov. 4, 2015 – Third public hearing on draft plans; Board votes to adopt trustee area plan for submission to Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. If the Board orders further modifications, another public hearing will be required.
* Jan. 19-20, 2016 – Board of Governors reviews District’s draft plans.
* Nov. 8, 2016 – First election using new by-trustee area election plan.
How are the boundaries for the trustee areas determined?
The Board of Trustees sets the criteria used for drawing the boundaries. The criteria are contained in Resolution 2015/16-08, which appears on the Board’s Sept. 23 meeting agenda. The criteria are:
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall be established so that the trustee areas are equal in population as defined by law.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall not be gerrymandered in violation of the principles established by the United States Supreme Court in Shaw v. Reno, 509 U.S. 630 (1993), and its progeny.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall be established so that the trustee areas do not result in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen to vote on account of race or color as provided in Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall observe communities of interest, including: rural or urban populations; social interests; agricultural, industrial or service industry interests; and the like, insofar as practicable.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall be compact, insofar as practicable.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall be created to contain cohesive, contiguous territory, insofar as practicable.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas may observe topography and geography, such as the existence of mountains, flat land, forest lands, man-made geographical features such as highways, major roadways and canals, etc., as natural divisions between districts, insofar as practicable.
* Unless otherwise required by law, the trustee areas shall be created using whole census blocks.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas may avoid the “pairing” of incumbents in the same trustee area, insofar as this does not conflict with the constitution and laws of the State of California and the United States.
* The boundaries of the trustee areas shall comply with such other factors which become known during the redistricting process and are formally adopted by the Board of Trustees.
When might the by-trustee area voting system be in place – in time for the next election?
The trustee elections that are scheduled for November 2015 have been moved to November 2016. And, the trustee elections scheduled for November 2017 have been moved to November 2018.
When are the terms of the board members currently scheduled to end?
* Michael Berger – November 2018* Michele Jenkins – November 2016
* Joan MacGregor – November 2018
* Bruce Fortine – November 2016
* Steve Zimmer – November 2016