District-Based Election Public Hearing #5

Retrieved October 3, 2023 at 10:01 a.m.

Dear City of Irvine,
I write to address a matter of paramount significance and emphasize the importance of a thorough and thoughtful approach to the upcoming shift in how voters elect the City Council. To the greatest extent possible, it is imperative that every conceivable effort is made to ensure that the City Council remains a comprehensive legislative and governance body that is deeply invested in, committed to, and concerned about the well-being of the city as a whole.
The decision to transition to a By-Trustee Area election method by the IUSD Board of Education serves as a valuable example. Extensive deliberation and thorough consideration of community input included impassioned oral communications by Tammy Kim, advocating for and supporting a shift to a By-Trustee Area election method. Though board members are now elected by citizens of their respective trustee areas, the IUSD Board of Education continues to operate as a unified Board, representing, supporting, and prioritizing the interests of all Irvine communities, residents, students and staff.
In a parallel context, the City Council is entrusted with representing the entirety of the City of Irvine. While transitioning to a new election method, the City Council must continue to prioritize the welfare of the entire City of Irvine, rather than focusing narrowly on a specific geographic or district area within the city. Irrespective and regardless of any preferred draft map or sequence of elections, it is essential that the City Council, both now and in the future, acts in the best interest of the entire community.
While district-based elections aim to mitigate and reduce racially polarized voting and address associated concerns, we must also be mindful of potential unintended consequences. District-based representation can, and in several instances have, inadvertently led to balkanization and fragmentation, causing Councilmembers to narrowly focus on district-specific issues and the area for which they are electorally accountable. “We can’t overlook the politics that come into play in situations like these.”
While acknowledging the constraints and legal obligations which bind the City of Irvine and its City Council, the pressing question and primary concern are how to execute the implementation of an alternative election method that aligns with the California Voting Rights Act while also striving to continue to serve the community and its residents in the most effective manner possible. This is not a perfect situation, but it is our current reality.
The ideal scenario envisions no single Councilmember solely representing one community or district area. For these reasons, an amendment to the Charter as the organic law of the City of Irvine maintaining or requiring the Mayor and Councilmembers to represent the entire City of Irvine and all six of its City Council Election Districts would compel them to consider a broader constituency beyond a single community.
In light of these considerations, I urge you to approach this transition with maximal consideration, recognizing that it presents both challenges and opportunities for comprehensive governance in Irvine. Your diligent efforts in executing this transition will play a crucial role in ensuring a more inclusive and unified future for our city.
We are many. We are one. We are Irvine.
Six Districts. One Irvine.
Thank you for your consideration and assistance in drawing maps.
Chris Anderson