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At the March 20, 2018 City Council meeting, it appeared that the majority of the City Council had already decided to go to district elections in Dana Point; but that decision may be inevitable.
According to the City Attorney, paying $30,000 and going to districts, in response to a lawsuit and to ostensibly improve the voting rights of minority groups in the city, is the only way to avoid additional litigation or prevent future election results being challenged in court.
It didn’t matter when the city’s demographer stated that, with Dana Point’s small and scattered minority population, districting could not improve the voting situation for the city’s minority groups. Unfortunately, districting will significantly reduce the voting rights of all Dana Point residents, allowing them to vote for only one council member for their district every four years and not be represented by the other council members.
What many people also expressed at last night’s council meeting was frustration, not just about being forced into districts, but over the speed by which the City Council rushed toward districting. The Council did not gather relevant information or explore options such as other cities are doing, adequately inform residents or put up any resistance what so ever. Although voting polarization may not occur in our city, the council should also be discussing how to improve the voting impact of our minority population so it can be effectively represented as it deserves.
Councilman Tomlinson also made some irresponsible comments at the council meeting that shocked those in attendance. In response to residents referring to a community forum held to inform them about redistricting, Mr. Tomlinson said that the only forums should be the city council meetings. He criticized council members for going into the community to talk with residents.
Mr. Tomlinson should know that council meetings may not be convenient for many residents, are not open discussions with questions and answers, and have a 3 minute time limit for residents to only speak once. If districting is inevitable, then even more community outreach is needed, which could also be used to reach minority groups.
So much for how Mr. Tomlinson defines his duty to Dana Point residents. The history of comments and actions of our City Council members reflect their character and determine whether Dana Point residents should trust them to serve in their best interest.
Also of interest is council member Paul Wyatt’s response, included here.
Submitted by Betty Hill of Save Dana Point.