Chico City Council to discuss switching to district voting

Big changes are in the works for Chico's City Council.

Posted: Nov 11, 2019 5:32 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2019 3:35 PM

CHICO, Calif. - Big changes are in the works for Chico's City Council. 

The council is looking at switching from at large voting, to districting.

This means where you live will determine which candidates will be on your ballot, and it's unlikely you will see more than one council member living on the same street.

Councilman Sean Morgan explained this is happening up and down the state. 

"Whoever the attorney group is they do this up and down the state and they sue cities and say you don't have enough minority representation on your council," said Morgan. 

Morgan also said the city does not have any other options. 

"If we fight against this, no city has ever won one of these lawsuits, and there's a bunch of cities that have spent tens of millions of dollars trying, and we don't have tens of millions of dollars," said Morgan. 

Morgan said the city wants to use the money toward, police, fire, and public safety. 

Two lawsuits claim the Latino voice has consistently not been represented by city leaders, in part because of a lack of districts. 

The city has to come up with a plan for the switch or face being sued. 

"I believe you will see a district election in 2020. So we have to meet and say we are going to do that, and we have to get public opinion, and we have to hire some guy who comes in and says here is how the population is spread out and here is how the districts should look, so all that has to happen and it has to happen pretty quickly," explained Morgan. 

Even though the switch in voting may happen under duress, Morgan pointed out one upside to the change. 

"Cause you don't have to run in the whole city, I used to walk the whole city, send mailers to the whole city, it is really expensive to do that," said Morgan. 

Many of the counselors live in close proximity to one another, and that could be a problem down the road.

"Like four of them live in like four blocks of each other so I don't know how they are going to cut that to protect themselves, but you will see some of that going on," said Morgan. 

Some people in Chico are accepting of the idea of voting districts. 

"I think districting is good because we have a large group of Chico State students, who are wonderful, they vote every year, but they don't stay here and see who they vote in. So I would prefer if they are going to vote someone in, that we have a chance to vote people in other sections of the town who would be here permanently," said Sharon Nichols who has lived in Chico for 60 years. 

Morgan also told Action News Now even if people come to voice their opinions at the City Council meeting, it might not matter. 

He says the city cannot afford the lawsuit.

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