It was decided in a three-to-two vote, the Palm Springs City Council votes to move forward with district elections starting next year, the decision will change how council members will be elected and rid the elected position of mayor.
After nine months of reviewing district map drafts, public input and meetings, the city council officially chose a map to divide the city into districts and avoid a lawsuit by a firm claiming district elections violates the California Voting Rights Act.
However, Mayor Robert Moon said he regrets the change.
“We possibly could have won the lawsuit,” Moon said. “And we possibly could have set a new standard for the cities who are fighting against this outrageous invasion of our sovereignty.”
The city will go from at-large elections to a five-district election, each district will elect its own city council member to represent that community.
Councilmember Lisa Middleton was part of the task force that oversaw the transition. Middleton said, “As we reviewed the law the city was clearly at risk, potentially at risk of millions of dollars in legal cost should we had decided to fight this.”
Middleton mention cities like Palmdale that tried to challenge a similar lawsuit, the city settled into by dividing it into four districts and paid over $4,000,000 in legal costs.
Middleton said the shift of election process will allow voters to choose a candidate that represents their community’s demographics.
She said, “We think that does give a greater opportunity for individuals of color to be elected.”
However, Mayor Moon said the decision to change into districts and remove the mayoral position from the ballot should be up to the voters.
“Let’s have four districts and let people continue to elect a representative to be their mayor,” Moon said. “However, the rest of the council was hard-core, they would not compromise, they would not allow it to go to a vote, they completely demanded to do it their way and I could never support that.”
The elections in Palm Springs will go from at-large to districts in 2019. If Mayor Moon wants to be re-elected he would have to run as a city council candidate and against current Councilman Geoff Kors, Moon said this is a decision he is still considering long and hard.