Editor, Ceres Courier,
Thank you for contacting the Latino Community Roundtable (LCR) regarding our position behind the need to move to district elections. I am a Ceres resident, and also the Legislative Chair.
The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) was passed in 2002 to address polarized voting. As you know, Ceres does have smaller communities clumped together, such as Eastgate or even Colony Park, which I have resided in both.
At this time, the City of Ceres uses at-large elections, which is costly for the candidates seeking election, and by having at-large elections, it also eliminates the vote for the communities with a minimal voter turnout, as candidates often do not focus on the entire city, but instead tend to focus on the areas with the highest voter turnout and the communities with the lowest turnout often are overlooked, as the larger voter area can overturn the concerns of another much smaller voting area.
District elections allow those, regardless of their precinct, to have an option for their vote to count and not be overlooked by a neighborhood with a large voting population. Ceres has a growing population, and every neighborhood is unique in its composition and needs. Having district elections will allow each section of Ceres to elect someone who feels and believes, represents their issues, concerns, and neighborhood. n the Ceres City Council election of 2011, Ceres had 18,154 voters; however only 3,327 ballots were cast. Taking a closer look, you will see some precincts have as little as 121 voters and other precincts had as many as 975 voters. If everyone turned out and voted, who would really have a voice in the election? In the 2011 Ceres City Council election, there were three open seats, and eight candidates ran, of which three were Latinos. All three Latino candidates lost despite Ceres having about a 56% Hispanic population. With district elections, it allows the city to be broken down into small sections of close to equal numbers, so the neighborhood can vote as a whole for the person that represents their needs. Does this mean minorities are going to win? Absolutely, not! It’s also not about race, color, or gender; it’s about equal representation that are reflective of the constituency (residents) of their respective neighborhoods.
Several years ago, I was part of the Colony Park community, and the movement to improve living standards in our community. We were very vocal and filled the board room on several occasions. However, we often felt the city leaders, at that time, did not “hear” our concerns and did not understand our needs, despite our many presentations. The issues we addressed back then continue to exist today. Although many of the residents, like myself, have relocated, district elections would have made sure the City Council member for our district was aware of our many issues, and concerns, which equals to our voices being counted, instead of council members focusing and concentrating on issues that only happen in high turnout voting neighborhoods throughout Ceres.
As a registered voter, I do vote in every election, and know my vote will be counted; however, it is my hope to ensure everyone’s vote is counted equally for the candidate they truly believe and feel represents their neighborhood and keep their best interests in mind when voting on issues that directly affect their neighborhoods.
Latino Community Roubdtable