Ceres voters should be electing members of the Ceres City Council on the basis of five districts, not on a citywide basis. That's the belief of the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR) which presented a request on Monday for the city to take such action.
Maggie Mejia, president of the Hispanic group, presented a letter of request for the city to follow suit and form council districts much as the Ceres Unified School District board of trustees did years back.
Madera's school district fought a similar attempt at forming trustee areas and lost the legal fight after spending $1 million in attorney fees, said Mejia.
The city of Los Banos has gone to district based elections for council seats.
"We're hear to work with you," Mejia told the council. "We did this letter to bring it to you for attention. We want to protect the community."
After explaining that LCR members "are not your enemies," Mejia told the council she hoped it would make a change without the pressure of lawsuits, to which she hinted.
"If those civil attorneys come in they will hit you hard and hit you where it hurts the most, in the dollars we need to keep here," said Mejia.
Before going into closed session on the matter, former Ceres City Councilman Guillermo Ochoa lent his support for district elections. Ochoa noted that he spent $6,000, $17,000 and $7,000 in three separate council elections and said districts would mean candidates would spend less money since they would not have to cover the entire city.
"District elections wouldn't hurt the city," said Ochoa. He said candidates wouldn't have to spend as much money on campaigns since they only have to target a smaller pool of the electorate.
The push reflects a growing trend as school districts, college boards and cities across the state scramble to switch from at-large voting to electoral districts in response to public pressure and threats of lawsuits under the California Voting Rights Act.