Connecting the Dots ~ Fred Allebach

Fred Allebach Fred Allebach is a member of the City of Sonoma’s Community Services and Environmental Commission, and an Advisory Committee member of the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency. Fred is a member of Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards, as well as Sonoma Valley Housing Group and Transition Sonoma Valley.


A call for city district elections

Posted on September 6, 2017 by Fred Allebach

A corollary point to the fairness of the new commission appointment process. If 4/5 of the council lives on the east side of Sonoma, how does that represent the full demographic of town? Is it fair for east side council members to have such a weighted number of city commission appointments?

One way to address this unfair bias is to have city district elections for council members, so that each member represents one fifth of the city’s demographic. The county is broken up into districts, why not the city? Susan Gorin is not expected to take into account equally Bodega Bay and Sonoma issues; she’s focused on her district.

Santa Rosa is moving towards a district-elected city council, and presumably, among other goals, this will serve to enfranchise Latino voters and ensure better representation for a group that is 40% of the state’s population.

It stands to reason, if the new city commission appointment process is all about fairness and representative government, that the council itself should adhere to being as fairly representative of town as possible.

With an unbalanced east side sensibility now in control of commission appointments, and other important policy decisions, this stands against the principle of fair representation. After all, the whole shake up of commissions appointments was done on the basis of fairness and reducing arbitrary bias.

If district elections were to be held, then the challenge would be how to create five fair districts that were not gerrymandered to a particular voting group’s advantage. Districts would have to be collated and created to balance voter interests, and to make council members possibly have to appeal to different interest groups to be elected.

For example, the east side and west side of town have broken out in past elections as distinct class blocs. The center of town is more liberal than the edges of town. Districts could be created to represent economic classes based on property values, so that council members would represent five points along a spectrum, from the super wealthy, to the 10%, to three more points around the area median income. Or, districts could be straight geographic, north, east, south, west, and central.

A citizen commission could create the districts, as with state-level districting. But for fairness, who would appoint the citizens and on what basis? There might need to be a referee-type commission to oversee the fairness of all commissions and elections.

As things stand now, creating a new commission appointment process just doesn’t seem fair when appointments will come from 4/5 of council members who are from the east side.

The next logical step is for some member of the council to call for a district election process, and for two others to put that on the agenda for discussion, even if that meant some members might lose their council seats.

Current city commissioners who have existing terms are likely to lose their seats in the name of a fairer process. It would only be fair if council members would subject themselves to the same principle.







One thought on “A call for city district elections

  1. FRED. this is an interesting idea…. However it is also flawed idea as well. Vast majority of latinos in sonoma live outside the city limits… And in regards to the actual city limits the west side is now almost as pricy as the west side. Our neighbors just sold their house for close to 800,000. One small house…. Our neighbors down the street on the west side just sold their house for 1.7 million. They had about 400,000 into it… Not bad.. In other words… my point is the east side and west side dissection model really does not work for Sonoma proper.. The poor folk live outside the city limits… I mean, North, South, East , West. where do you draw the lines ? And what difference does it make when poor folk can’t live anywhere no more.. ANd one more point … Not all our city council members are rich. They are all white however. Perhaps it would just be best to demand multi racial representation rather than representation based on where they live. It gets complex once you start drawing lines. Perhaps less complex for Santa Rosa. MOreso for sonoma since most Latinos live in the springs…. outside the city limits..

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