The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved the Sulphur Springs School District’s request to move to even voting years for board members beginning in 2018.
“Over the past few years, the district has been evaluating options to increase voter participation and to reduce potential exposure to civil suits, pursuant to the California Voting Rights Act,” according to a letter filed on behalf of the school board. “As part of these efforts, approximately three years ago, March 2013, the district submitted a prior request to convert to even year elections.”
The district’s request was denied at that time, and a few months later, a voting-rights lawsuit was filed against the district, “challenging the district’s use of at-large voting.”
The plaintiff, Rosemarie Sanchez-Fraser, also sued the city of Santa Clarita and the Santa Clarita Community College District. The city and the two school districts reached a settlement.
The Sulphur Springs district decided to use a “by-trustee” election system which split the district into separate voting areas. Population sizes and demographics are used to determine the boundaries.
The district used the by-trustee election system for the first time in November 2015, but “the district continued to experience low voter turnout for this past election.”
After a 4-1 vote by the school board, the district again asked the county for permission to move to even-numbered election years. The Board of Supervisors has the final say.
The terms of school board members Ken Chase, Dr. Kerry Clegg and Lori MacDonald would have ended in 2017, and while Denis DeFigueiredo and Shelly Weinstein’s terms would have ended in 2019. With the move to even-year elections, their current terms are extended to 2018 and 2020, respectively.