In February, Dana Point was targeted for districting under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). Since then the city rushed to comply and facilitate districting for the 2018 election, significantly reducing the voting rights of Dana Point citizens. Meanwhile the City Attorney acted to shorten the response time allowed in the CVRA by four weeks, which is significant.
The chart shows that if the response time had not been shortened, the city could possibly have justified delaying districting until the 2020 election. Districting maps could not have been submitted to the Orange County Registrar of Voters before a July 6th deadline.
Given the legal expertise of Rutan and Tucker, the city’s law firm, it seems possible that expediting districting for the 2018 election might have been intentional and a huge violation of the public trust on this critical matter. On Feb. 20 the City Council passed a resolution stating their intention to transition to by-district elections for city council. At that time, the City Attorney never mentioned that the city had the right to deliberate four more weeks and possibly avert going to districts until the 2020 election.
That accelerated vote eliminated the possibility of having an “at large” election in 2018 preferred by Dana Point voters in which all voters can elect three city council candidates from throughout the city. Instead, districting allows only 60% of Dana Point voters to choose just one council member from their district and 40% to have no vote at all.
It became even more unfair to residents when Councilmen Viczorek and Muller helped themselves by choosing their own districts as those that could vote in 2018. By running for reelection in a district, they avoid being held accountable by all Dana Point voters for unpopular actions. Recently they voiced support for the City Attorney and his lucrative, city contract. A critical question is whether these Councilmen were aware of the timing issue before they voted for districting.
No matter the justification given for districting, an additional two years would have resulted in a more informed decision, including the possibility of having four districts with an at large mayor. By 2020 there would have been time to consider the results of districting decisions in other Orange County cities and even rulings in courts throughout the state about questions concerning the CVRA legislation itself.
Districting that drastically reduced the voting rights of residents was one of the most impactful actions ever taken in Dana Point. The facts concerning that decision speak for themselves: DANA POINT WAS POORLY SERVED.