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Los Angeles County, CA March 3, 2015 Election
Charter Amendment 2
New Election Dates and Schedules for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD);
One-Time Adjustment to Align Terms With New Election Dates By 2020
City of Los Angeles

Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

Pass: 145,163 / 76.7% Yes votes ...... 44,014 / 23.3% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the City Charter be amended to: 1) change the City's primary and general election dates to June and November of even-numbered years beginning in 2020 so that City elections are held on the same dates as Federal and State elections; 2) provide that, in 2015 and 2017 only, candidates be elected for a term of 51A years to transition to the new election dates; 3) adjust vacancy election schedules and allow temporary appointments to fill vacant offices until an election is held; 4) enable initiative and referendum elections to be scheduled at either the next City or next State election; and 5) allow initiative proponents to withdraw their measure prior to scheduling an election?

Summary Prepared by
City Ballot Simplification Committee:
THE SITUATION: Currently, LAUSD and State elections are held in different years. The City Charter controls LAUSD candidate elections and requires these elections to be held in March and May of odd numbered years. State elections are held in June and November of even numbered years.

THE PROPOSAL: This measure would change the LAUSD's election dates to the same dates as State elections beginning in 2020. To shift to the new election dates, candidates elected in 2015 and 2017 would serve a term of 5/1 2 years. The measure would make other related changes to election calendars, as described above.

A YES VOTE MEANS: You want to change the LAUSD's election dates to the same dates as State elections beginning in 2020; approve a one-time change to candidate terms to align with these new dates; and approve other related election calendar changes.

A NO VOTE MEANS: You do not want to change the LAUSD's election dates to the same dates as State elections beginning in 2020; approve a one-time change to candidate terms to align with these new dates; and approve other related election calendar changes.

Fiscal Impact from Miguel A. Santana,
City Administrative Officer:
This measure will change municipal and LAUSD election dates so that they occur at the same time as federal and state elections, beginning in 2020. The measure will allow for the consolidation of the federal, state, city, and LAUSD elections. Consolidating elections may be dependent upon the successful implementation of LA County's Voting System Assessment Project. The total fiscal impact of this measure is unknown. The County's fees to conduct consolidated elections may depend upon the number of jurisdictions which elect to have the County conduct their elections on the same date.This measure provides for changes related to vacancies in elected offices, which may provide potential savings by decreasing the number of special elections required.

Impartial Analysis from Sharon M. Tso,
Chief Legislative Analyst
The Los Angeles City Charter (Charter) establishes election dates for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elections. The measure would amend the Charter relative to election dates for primary nominating and general municipal elections for the LAUSD Board of Education, by making permanent, and one-time adjustments, to election schedules, terms of office, and other related changes to align City election laws with the new election dates.

The proposed measure would make the following changes:

  • New LAUSD Election Dates - the measure would change the primary nominating election to the first Tuesday, after the first Monday in June of even-numbered years. The general municipal election would be held on the first Tuesday, after the first Monday in November of even-numbered years. These election days are the same as State elections. Currently, the primary nominating election is held on the first Tuesday, after the first Monday in March, and the general municipal election is held on the third Tuesday in May, of odd-numbered years. Additionally, the start date of office for Board of Education Officials would change from the first day of July in odd-numbered years, to the second Monday of December in even-numbered years, to conform to the new election dates.
  • Effective Date - this measure would take effect in the year 2020 for odd-numbered Board of Education districts, and in the year 2022 for even-numbered Board of Education districts.
  • Transition to New Election Dates - in order to align the new start date of office, the measure provides that Board of Education Officials elected in 2015 and 2017 would run for a 5 year term. This transition would be a one-time adjustment. All Board of Education offices would resume 4 year terms effective 2020 and 2022.
  • Vacancy Elections - the measure would provide the Board of Education with the option of calling a special election to fill a vacancy and to make a temporary appointment to fill the vacant office. Additionally, it would adjust the date until which an appointee would serve, to reflect the new election dates.
  • Recall Elections - the measure would require that a recall election be held between 88-125 days of Council action on a certified recall petition, consistent with State law.
  • Redistricting Schedule - the measure would require that the redistricting process be completed six months earlier to be effective for the 2022 elections.
  • Canvass Period - the measure would allow the City Clerk 28 days to canvass election returns, which would more closely align the Charter with State law.

The Charter requires that LAUSD and City elections be administered together. The accompanying ballot measure, Charter Amendment 1, would make similar changes to the Charter for City elections. Therefore, both measures contain a contingency clause which would make the effectiveness of each measure dependent upon the passage of the other.

 
'Pros & Cons' from
League of Women Voters of Los Angeles

Los Angeles City Charter Amendments 1 and 2
Charter Amendments pass with a majority vote

The Question:
Should the City Charter be amended to provide for new election dates for city elections and elections for members of the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD); should one-time adjustments be made to align the terms of elected officials with the new election dates; and should other election-related changes be made?

The Situation:
L.A. City elections are held in March and May of odd-numbered years, while California state elections are held in June and November of even-numbered years. Elections for members of the LAUSD board are held concurrently with L.A. City elections. LAUSD elections are separate from city elections because a number of schools in the LAUSD lie outside of the city; voters in those areas vote for members of the LAUSD board, but not on L.A. City issues.

L.A. City elected officials and members of the LAUSD board serve four-year terms.

Turnout for the L.A. City and LAUSD elections has been very low. Fewer than 25% of registered voters participated in the March and May 2013 elections.

The Proposal:
Starting in the year 2020, L.A. City and LAUSD elections would be held at the same time as California state elections, in June and November of even-numbered years. The City Council would have the option of having the elections consolidated by L.A. County on the same ballot as federal and state elections, or holding regular city elections on the new dates.

In order to align with the new election dates, the terms of candidates elected in 2015 and 2017 would be extended from four years to five-and-a half years for this one time only.

Other Changes:
  • Initiatives and Referendums could be submitted to the voters at either the city/LAUSD election, the state election or a separate election, and initiative proponents could withdraw their measures prior to the election.
  • Redistricting would be completed earlier, in order to be effective for the 2022 elections.
  • Election schedules for interim vacancies would be adjusted to reflect the new election dates, and temporary appointments could be made to fill vacant seats.

Charter Amendment One would make these changes for the L.A. City elections.
Charter Amendment Two would make these change for the LAUSD elections.

Both measures would have to pass in order for the changes to take effect.

Financial Impact:
The total financial impact of these measures is unknown. At this time, it's not possible to determine whether the city will save money by not having to conduct its own elections. The county will charge the city a fee to conduct consolidated elections, the cost of which is unknown at this time. Consolidating these local elections with state elections may depend on the successful implementation of L.A. County's new voting system, which is expected to roll out in 2020. There are potential savings due to the "other changes" described above.

Supporters Say:
  • Turnout at city and LAUSD elections has been too low. Consolidating with federal and state elections will vastly improve voter participation and eliminate "election fatigue."
  • L.A. could potentially save millions of dollars that could better be spent on schools, parks, libraries and fixing our roads to reduce traffic.

Opponents Say:
  • Consolidating with federal and state elections may not translate to increased engagement of voters; city and LAUSD elections would be buried at the bottom of a crowded ballot.
  • Real election reform should focus on expanded civic education, better voting procedures, and scheduling elections on a weekend or weekday "voting holiday."

Signers of Arguments in Favor of Both Charter Amendments:
  • Dr. Fernando Guerra, Chair, City of Los Angeles Municipal Elections Reform Commission
  • Kathay Feng, Executive Director, California Common Cause
    Antonia Hernandez, President & CEO, California Community Foundation
  • Daniel Schnur, Former Chair, California Fair Political Practices Commission
  • Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
  • Stuart Waldman, President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association
  • Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor
  • Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director, West Los Angeles Community Development Corp.
  • Patricia Berman, President, Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council
  • George Thomas, President, Van Nuys Neighborhood Council

Signers of Arguments Against Both Charter Amendments:
  • Bernard C. Parks, Councilmember, District 8, City of Los Angeles
  • Hans Johnson, President, East Area Progressive Democrats
  • J. Michael Carey, Retired City Clerk, City of Los Angeles

Signer of Argument Against Charter Amendment 2:
  • Nancy Pearlman, Trustee, Los Angeles Community College District

A YES vote means:
You want to change the L.A. City and LAUSD election dates to the same dates as California state elections, change the terms of elected officials to align with the new dates, and make other election-related changes.

A NO vote means:
You do not want to change the L.A. City and LAUSD election dates to the same dates as California state elections, change the terms of elected officials to align with the new dates, or make other election-related changes.
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Arguments For Charter Amendment 2 Arguments Against Charter Amendment 2
A government of the people and for the people requires participation BY the people. Elections are the great equalizer, allowing everyone's voice to be heard with the same weight without regard to race, age or gender.

Elections are sacred and allow our democracy to function.

Elections are also expensive--costing taxpayers millions of dollars. When we hold elections with very low voter turnout, we are wasting money and placing power directly into the hands of special interests--not the voters.

It's time for change.

It's time to simplify our election process and stop wasting taxpayer dollars.

A YES vote on Charter Amendment 2 will do this.

For as long as anyone can remember, Los Angeles holds elections for local offices like LAUSD School Boardmembers just a few months AFTER we vote for higher profile offices like President and U.S. Senator. Here's the result: In the November 2012 election, turnout was 71%. A few months later, turnout in the 2013 election for three LAUSD Boardmembers was only 21%! That means barely one in five voters are making critical, quality of life decisions for the vast majority of Angelenos.

That's simply not democracy at its best!

Charter Amendment 2 will consolidate LAUSD elections with federal and state elections, vastly improve voter participation and potentially save LA millions of dollars that could be better spent on schools, parks, libraries, and fixing our roads to reduce traffic.

"If switching to on-cycle elections means more people will be involved in choosing their local representatives, then Los Angeles shouldn't hesitate to do it." - Los Angeles Times (9/18/14)

Join the Los Angeles 2020 Commission, the Elections Reform Commission, Common Cause, neighborhood councils, academics, business groups, and your neighbors in supporting Charter Amendment 2. Vote YES for higher voter turnout. Vote YES for better democracy. Vote YES to save millions in taxpayer dollars.

Vote YES on Charter Amendment 2.

PERSONS SIGNING ARGUMENT FOR CHARTER AMENDMENT 2

Dr. Fernando Guerra, Chair, City of Los Angeles Municipal Elections Reform Commission
Kathay Feng, Executive Director, California Common Cause
Antonia Hernandez, President & CEO, California Community Foundation
Daniel Schnur, Former Chair, California Fair Political Practices Commission
Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Stuart Waldman, President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association
Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director, West Los Angeles Community Development Corp.
Patricia Berman, President, Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council
George Thomas, President, Van Nuys Neighborhood Council

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The assertion "Charter Amendment 2 ... will save millions in taxpayer dollars" has nodemonstrable basis in fact. Charter Amendment 2 does not eliminate school board electionsor reduce their frequency + elections will still be conducted every two years. Only now,taxpayers will be paying L.A. County to run them as a contractor, at an unknown cost.

L.A. Councilmembers pushing to change school board election dates cleverly built an extended 5- year office term into the ballot language, instead of allowing you, the voter, to decide the length of term.

"This ... seems like another attempt to treat the symptom instead of the disease, to puff up participation percentages without necessarily boosting civic engagement... it's discouraging to see (city officials) pretend the problem is in the election system, when they should look inward and encourage the public to do the same." - L.A. Daily News editorial (9/24/14)

Vote NO on Charter Amendment 2.

PERSONS SIGNING REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF CHARTER AMENDMENT 2

BERNARD C. PARKS, Councilmember, District 8, City of Los Angeles

HANS JOHNSON, President, East Area Progressive Democrats

J. MICHAEL CAREY, Retired City Clerk, City of Los Angeles

NANCY PEARLMAN, Trustee, Los Angeles Community College District

Charter Amendment 2 shifts Los Angeles School Board elections to even years - buried at the bottom of a crowded ballot after federal, state, county and city races and propositions.

Competing in California's frantic general election environment, local contests would necessarily become exceedingly more expensive and community-based candidates would have less competitive equality. The result: candidates would be even more dependent on special interests to give them money. Combining local elections with so many other offices would tilt the playing field toward favor-seekers, a corrupting influence over LAUSD governance, and expose our precious nonpartisan school board elections to the skewed influence of partisan electioneering.

Charter Amendment 2 gives incumbent school board members a free extra year and a half in office. It restricts the ability of parents to have election debates focused on local school concerns. It is bad for Los Angeles' educational future and lacks accountability and fairness.

Even the proposal's supporters acknowledge changing the election date does not solve the problem of declining voting. It only addresses a symptom. School board candidates are the most closely tied to community and neighborhood support.

This measure would drive up the costs of their candidacies in the much more expensive context of a Presidential or gubernatorial election year, without providing candidates any matching funds. Special interests' strong grip on the machinery of electioneering in partisan federal, state and county campaigns dominates the even-year ballot and would become stronger.

Real election reform should focus on earlier and expanded civics education, easier and more modernized voting procedures, scheduling elections on a weekend, and campaign reform.

Charter Amendment 2 is fake reform. It flies in the face of the very effort to engage voters and increase trust in the democratic process that proponents suggest. Vote NO on Charter Amendment 2.

PERSONS SIGNING ARGUMENT AGAINST CHARTER AMENDMENT 2

BERNARD C. PARKS, Councilmember, District 8, City of Los Angeles

HANS JOHNSON, President, East Area Progressive Democrats

J. MICHAEL CAREY, Retired City Clerk, City of Los Angeles

NANCY PEARLMAN, Trustee, Los Angeles Community College District

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
It's common sense: higher voter participation will hold elected officials accountable to the public. Charter Amendment 2 would bring sunlight to our elections by tripling voter turnout, so that special interests can't operate in the shadows.

Even the chief opponents of Charter Amendment 2 have admitted that the reforms in Charter Amendment 2 would lead to "A larger turnout."

We agree.

Opponents claim higher turnout elections would pose "an unknown cost."

That's because there is NO cost.

Every independent analysis says Charter Amendment 2 will save money because the LAUSD will no longer have to pay the costs for printing, mailing ballot pamphlets, hiring poll workers, and other election-related expenses.

Vote YES to put power back in the hands of the voters, not the special interests.

Vote YES to save taxpayer dollars needed to fund schools, libraries and parks--not more elections.

Vote YES on Charter Amendment 2.

PERSONS SIGNING REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT AGAINST CHARTER AMENDMENT 2

Dr. Fernando Guerra, Chair, City of Los Angeles Municipal Elections Reform Commission
Kathay Feng, Executive Director, California Common Cause
Antonia Hernandez, President & CEO, California Community Foundation
Daniel Schnur, Former Chair, California Fair Political Practices Commission
Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Stuart Waldman, President, Valley Industry & Commerce Association
Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor
Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director, West Los Angeles Community Development Corp.
Patricia Berman, President, Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council
George Thomas, President, Van Nuys Neighborhood Council


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Created: March 31, 2015 18:06 PDT
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