Torrance may be changing from at-large to district elections. Currently, our elections are held at-large, which means that all six Councilmembers and the Mayor are elected to their posts by every voter in Torrance. If changed, Torrance would move to district elections where the City is split into geographic areas and there is one Councilmember elected by only the people of that area to represent that section of the City. The Mayor would still be elected at-large.
This potential change comes as the result of the City of Torrance receiving a letter from an attorney well known for profiting by suing cities for alleged violations of the California Voting Rights Act. This act is meant to ensure equitable representation of protected classes for elected bodies.
It is my belief that because we are a diverse and well integrated City, it’s not possible to create a district map that guarantees improved diversity on the Council. Therefore, the alleged lack of diversity issue would not be solved by moving to district elections.
Unfortunately, many cities in CA have faced the same lawsuits and precedent is such that whether the allegations of under-representation are true or not, the City will most likely lose. This has been borne out in numerous cities, even those who have spent millions of dollars fighting back. It’s simply infuriating to think that even if the City proves the basis of the lawsuit to be invalid and moving to district elections will not remedy the situation, that the lawsuit would still likely be lost.
Last night, the Council discussed how to handle this and all seven of us found the potential outcomes distasteful; spend millions fighting a likely to lose lawsuit or transition to district elections. While the outcome is not yet set in stone, the Council unanimously decided to move forward with a series of public hearings to transition to by-district elections.
As we explore our options, we need your feedback. Please plan to attend one of the public hearings below to learn more and voice your opinion. All meeting are held during the regular Council meeting at 7pm, with the exception of April 16th, which will be at 5pm. Whether you can attend in person or not, I’d like to hear from you- please leave your comments and questions below. Please also share via social media so we can have as many people involved in this decision as possible.