According to the City’s website, the Irvine City Council discussed an anticipated legal battle over district elections during their closed-door session on April 13th.
While the City has not released the outcome of the April 13th meeting, the City website includes a series of documents related to the matter.
Here’s what we know. On March 5th, the City Clerk received a certified letter from a lawyer (Kevin I. Shenkman) representing the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, charging the City with violating the California Voting Rights Act by continuing to elect members of the City Council through an “at-large” election process rather than “by-district.” Shenkman’s letter stated that the City could face a lawsuit if it did not agree to voluntarily move to district elections.
An at-large election system allows voters from across the City to elect all members of the City Council. District elections would divide Irvine into geographic districts, with voters in each district electing their own City Councilmember, who must also live in that district.
As cities grow, most decide on their own to switch to district elections since it’s viewed as a more equitable voting system to ensure that every part of town has its elected representative.
Here in Orange County, the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, Orange, Santa Ana, and Westminster have all switched to district elections in recent years.
Locally, Irvine Unified School District, the Irvine Ranch Water District, and the South Orange County Community College District have also moved to district elections.
With the deadline to respond to Shenkman’s letter quickly approaching (April 25th), Irvine Community News & Views will keep our readers updated on whether the City decides to voluntarily transition to district elections or engage in a legal battle.