District 4: Out With the New Boundaries, In With the Old

District 4: Out With the New Boundaries, In With the Old

File photo by Sam Hodgson

A voter casts her ballot in City Heights.

 

On New Year’s Eve, Anna Orzel-Arnita walked into City Hall to declare that she was running for City Council.

Orzel-Arnita has led the community council in Redwood Village for the last eight years. With the neighborhood’s shift into District 4 through redistricting, Orzel-Arnita believed she could best represent the district’s southeastern San Diego communities. The election for a new council member is coming earlier than expected because Tony Young resigned with two years left in his term.

But Orzel-Arnita was told she couldn’t run.

City law says the special election to replace Young will use the old boundaries of District 4.That means residents of Redwood Village and Rolando Park, both shifted into District 4 during the redistricting process, won’t be able to vote or wage a campaign in the district of which they’re now a part. Residents of some sections of City Heights, which used to be in District 4 under the old boundaries, can vote and run in the election even though they chose their new council member last year.

“I feel like this entire community of voters are being disenfranchised,” Orzel-Arnita said.

Orzel-Arnita plans to plead her case to change the rules at Monday’s council meeting. She faces long odds, based on the city’s timeline.

Council President Todd Gloria thinks the city’s laws should be changed, but doesn’t believe anything can be done before the special election.

“Believe me, I’m incredibly sympathetic to any candidate that’s caught in this position,” said Gloria, who had to move when redistricting shifted his house outside his district’s boundaries. “Having lived through it personally I understand what that means. The reality is we have to follow the law.”

Gloria has asked the City Attorney’s Office for options to amend the law, and expects a full airing of the issue on Monday.

There’s nothing unusual about how the city is handling this situation, said Michael R.W. Houston, an Orange County attorney who specializes in elections law. The state and non-charter cities do it the same way. The principle is simple: Those who elected a representative should be entitled to have someone serve that full term.

“It’s a question for political scientists to debate whether it’s good or bad,” Houston said.

♦♦♦

Young officially submitted his resignation effective Jan. 1. That started the 90-day clock to hold the special election to replace him. And lots of other District 4 dominoes are starting to fall.

• City Clerk Liz Maland is recommending the election be held March 26, which could allow it to be consolidated with a special election to replace Juan Vargas in the state Senate. Holding the election at the same time could save the city about $100,000.

• Eleven people have declared their intention to run, our media partner NBC 7 San Diego reports. NBC interviewed three of the better-known candidates, Dwayne Crenshaw, Barry Pollard and Bruce Williams, last month. Watch the interview:

• Until Young’s replacement is elected, Gloria will oversee the District 4 office. District staff will stay on, and Gloria said residents should expect no interruption in service.

Liam Dillon is a news reporter for Voice of San Diego. He covers how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

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12 comments
Anna Orzel-Arnita
Anna Orzel-Arnita subscriber

Simply put, Residents in 3 communities in D9, approximately 6000 registered voters, will have the opportunity to cast their ballot for a Councilmember that will NOT represent them on the San Diego City Council and 2 communities in D4, approximately 5000 registered voters, will not be able to cast their votes for the Councilmember who WILL represent them on the San Diego City Council. Still trying to wrap my head around this ordinance.

annaorzelarnita
annaorzelarnita

Simply put, Residents in 3 communities in D9, approximately 6000 registered voters, will have the opportunity to cast their ballot for a Councilmember that will NOT represent them on the San Diego City Council and 2 communities in D4, approximately 5000 registered voters, will not be able to cast their votes for the Councilmember who WILL represent them on the San Diego City Council. Still trying to wrap my head around this ordinance.

David Cohen
David Cohen subscriber

Voters in neighborhoods that have been shifted from one district to another and whose Council member has two remaining years of a term to serve ALL face the same situation, but only in D4 is there a Special Election to confuse the basic issue.

fryefan
fryefan

Voters in neighborhoods that have been shifted from one district to another and whose Council member has two remaining years of a term to serve ALL face the same situation, but only in D4 is there a Special Election to confuse the basic issue.

John Pilch
John Pilch subscriber

Gary: Can't disagree with your position. It appears there may be a constitutional issue involved and you might want to pursue that. We attempted to have Rolando Park and Redwood Village kept in the new D-9, but that was not successful and these two communities were placed in D-4. Thus, you should be able to vote for the person you want to represent you. As Turko would say, "It ain't right".

John in SC
John in SC

Gary: Can't disagree with your position. It appears there may be a constitutional issue involved and you might want to pursue that. We attempted to have Rolando Park and Redwood Village kept in the new D-9, but that was not successful and these two communities were placed in D-4. Thus, you should be able to vote for the person you want to represent you. As Turko would say, "It ain't right".

Bettina Rausa
Bettina Rausa subscriber

braced being put into another district and now, not only can we not have a candidate in the race, but we don't even get to vote! It's outrageous. Why would we expect whoever wins this election to give a damn about us. We mean nothing without the power of our vote.

Redwood Village
Redwood Village

braced being put into another district and now, not only can we not have a candidate in the race, but we don't even get to vote! It's outrageous. Why would we expect whoever wins this election to give a damn about us. We mean nothing without the power of our vote.

Ari Isaak
Ari Isaak subscriber

Let's do a map of old and new boundaries with census/demographic data in area included in vote but not part of d4 and those disenfranchised in d4.

SDMAPS
SDMAPS

Let's do a map of old and new boundaries with census/demographic data in area included in vote but not part of d4 and those disenfranchised in d4.

Gary Onstad
Gary Onstad subscriber

I can't believe that I wont be able to vote for the city council person that will represent me. Not only that but no one in my area can even run for the office. I didn't ask to be moved in to district 4 to begin with. When they moved us I found myself represented by someone I didn't elect. I voted for Marti Emerald but now, after the redistricting, she doesn't represent my area. Now they have a chance to correct this injustice—but instead they are heaping more on the steaming pile. How about the people in the district get to vote for the person that represents them and maybe even get a chance to run themselves?

GaryOnstad
GaryOnstad

I can't believe that I wont be able to vote for the city council person that will represent me. Not only that but no one in my area can even run for the office. I didn't ask to be moved in to district 4 to begin with. When they moved us I found myself represented by someone I didn't elect. I voted for Marti Emerald but now, after the redistricting, she doesn't represent my area. Now they have a chance to correct this injustice—but instead they are heaping more on the steaming pile. How about the people in the district get to vote for the person that represents them and maybe even get a chance to run themselves?