Dear Editor – The Death of Nonpartisan Local Elections

During the last few weeks Culver City residents have had the opportunity to attend more than 15 candidate forums throughout our neighborhoods where they were able hear our council candidates speak about Culver City issues and residents could ask questions and voice their concerns. But take heed, dear readers: these much needed informative sessions, a tradition for 100 years, could end and Culver City Council elections would never be the same!

Why? The California State Legislature found that although the Constitutional right of Charter Cities (as is Culver City) to have home rule over municipal matters, it mandated that cities that have low voter turnout must consolidate their local nonpartisan elections with the state general elections.

Our City Council was split on whether to comply or fight the legality of the State’s mandate and by a 3-2 vote has put the issue on the November ballot so our residents can vote for or against the consolidation of local nonpartisan elections with the general partisan elections. This election may be the most important one we have had in our city because nonpartisan local elections, the kind of elections we have always had, are on the line!

I am against consolidation because:

THERE WILL BE A LOSS OF DIALOGUE ON LOCAL ISSUES

Our candidate forums in a general election will be dominated by federal, state, county candidate, ballot initiatives, and non-Culver City issues. By the
time that these speakers have finished introducing themselves, stating their positions and answering partisan political questions, at least half the audience will have gone home. It will be at this time that our local candidates will be recognized, if at all.

It is very probable, because of the nature of the issues in general elections, that local candidates will be asked questions of interest to all of us, but do not come within the scope of municipal affairs, i.e. health care, taxes, immigration policies, gun control regulation, etc. Because general elections are partisan and our local elections are not, a candidate’s answer to a partisan question having nothing to do with Culver City Municipal affairs may doom one’s election to the City Council. Do we want our local elections to be influenced by partisan politics? I think not.

THE COST OF RUNNING FOR OFFICE WILL MAKE IT PROHIBITIVE FOR CANDIDATES WHO ARE NOT WEALTHY OR WHO BY REASON OF THEIR PARTY AFFILIATION, WILL NOT QUALIFY TO BE ON A PARTISAN SLATE.

The cost for running for City Council has been in the range of $50,000. I estimate that cost will double by reason of the proliferation of candidate materials and the need for a local candidate to obtain media exposure. Candidates for local office will find it to their advantage to be on a Democratic Slate (Approximately 70% of Culver City is registered Democratic). If you are not an active member of the Democratic Party, your chances of being on a slate are minimal. In short, the opportunity to vote for the best person rather than the predominate political party, will disappear, while the pieces of mail in your mailbox increase!

Believe me, I am not against the Democratic party and have been a Democrat for all my voting life. I served with many fine Republicans on our City Council during my 16 years our Council. Our party affiliations never mattered because partisan politics did not influence our decisions. We all were concerned about the city and its residents worked for what was best for them.

Culver City needs candidates who believe in the importance of preserving nonpartisan local elections; who believe that it is in our interest to vote for the candidate, and not the party.

This City Council election on April 10 will have a significant influence on the future of local nonpartisan elections in Culver City. Candidates, Albert Vera and Marcus Tiggs, are the only two in favor of preserving the local nonpartisan elections which we have experienced during our city’s history, and they are opposed to the proposed consolidation ballot measure. They believe that there are other ways we can provide more opportunities for people to vote in local elections and have suggested ways to do this.

This issue is very important to me because I do not want to see our city influenced by outside sources. That is why I am voting for Albert Vera and Marcus Tiggs.

Paul A. Jacobs
Former Culver City Council Member and Mayor

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