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Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights City Council voted unanimously on Thursday night to select a map they said will best split the city into five voting districts, but the map also guarantees at least one current council member won’t be re-elected.
Councilman Bret Daniels and Vice Mayor Jeff Slowey both live in the northwestern portion of the city, known as District 1 on the new map, meaning only one of them will be able to win re-election next year. It also creates a vacant seat in another district, which means at least one new council member will join the board next year.
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“I believe the map we chose serves the citizens of Citrus Heights best,” Daniels told The Sentinel on Friday. “It ensures that one incumbent will likely return to the council and one new council member will be elected, also.”
The map splits the city into five voting districts, with each council member being elected to represent their own area of the city — rather than being elected at-large by all voters in the city as in the past. Two districts will be up for election in 2020, while the remaining three districts — represented by Councilwoman Porsche Middleton, Mayor Jeannie Bruins, and Councilman Steve Miller — won’t be up for election until 2022.
With the new map, Middleton will represent District 5 in the southeastern portion of the city, Bruins will represent District 2 in the northeast, and Miller will represent District 4 in the northern area of the city. District 3, in the southwestern portion of the city, currently has no council members living in the district and will require that a resident from that area run for office next year.
During the transition to district-based elections, all current city council members will retain their seats for the remainder of their four-year terms. The new districts will go into effect at the next election in 2020, pending a final public hearing and formal adoption of the new districting ordinance at the City Council’s June 27 meeting.
Daniels confirmed he plans to run for another term next year, while Slowey hasn’t made a final decision.
“I’m leaning towards running, but I feel bad that any of us ended up in the same district,” Slowey told The Sentinel on Friday. He said his decision will be based on whether he decides to retire from his 25-year career in banking, noting that “having two jobs is getting old.”
Slowey has said he’s confident he could win re-election against Daniels, and when the two were on the ballot in 2016 he earned 4% more votes than Daniels. Daniels told The Sentinel he “looks forward to a spirited contest in next year’s election.”
The move to district-based voting from at-large elections was prompted by a demand letter the city received last year from a southern California-based attorney who alleged the current election system was disenfranchising Hispanic voters. While the city has disputed the allegations, the City Council opted to make the switch in order to avoid a costly lawsuit — a battle no city has won.
The current lines were drawn based on data from the 2010 census. The map is legally required to be updated following the 2020 census, to maintain an equal split of residents in each district.
The new district map, known as “Map 102,” was drawn by National Demographics Corporation, a consultant group assisting the city with the process of switching over to district-based elections. The map was selected as the best of nine maps being considered by the City Council.
Several other map options being considered by the council had lines drawn in ways to ensure existing council members would each be able to keep their seat, without putting two or more current members in the same district.
NDC said lines for Map 102 were drafted with attention to “compactness, following neighborhood boundaries, following major roads, and respecting the will of the voters.” Each district has roughly 16,500 residents, with about 12,000 residents of voting age in each.
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