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AG changes City Council election cycle and chooses new districts

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Arroyo Grande City Council districts will look very different starting with the 2022 election if the map council members recently voted on gets officially adopted.

"The most important issue is making it easy for our residents to understand where they're going to elect them [council members] from, and those that are going to elect them: Where are they living, and who are they voting for?" Councilmember Keith Storton said at the March 8 meeting.

SEQUENCE FLIP The Arroyo Grande City Council further modified Plan 202 and decided to let Districts 1 and 4 run for election in 2022, with Districts 2 and 3 going up in 2024. - MAP COURTESY OF ARROYO GRANDE
  • Map Courtesy Of Arroyo Grande
  • SEQUENCE FLIP The Arroyo Grande City Council further modified Plan 202 and decided to let Districts 1 and 4 run for election in 2022, with Districts 2 and 3 going up in 2024.

The City Council chose a modified version of the map called Plan 202. They favored it because it kept the Arroyo Grande Village intact, featured the Highway 101 "corridor" as a "really good delineator," and had easily identifiable boundaries overall.

Unlike its neighboring city of Grover Beach, Arroyo Grande selected a map that was originally submitted by a member of the public. Both cities had to throw out the majority of draft maps because of delays with release of the official census data. Many community members drew draft maps based on estimated data, which significantly varied from the official numbers and made most of their submissions ineligible.

The National Demographics Corporation (NDC), the agency that assisted both cities with the districting process, devised its own set of draft maps using census data and preferences of the public. Using additional input from Arroyo Grande City Council members in February, NDC incorporated changes to Plan 202, which community members had plotted using a mapping tool called DistrictR.

The City Council further edited the map at the March meeting. But this time, council members focused on the proposed election sequence rather than district boundaries.

Arroyo Grande City Clerk Jessica Matson told New Times that based on the proposed districts, Councilmembers Lan George and Jimmy Paulding live in District 1. Councilmembers Storton and Kristen Barneich live in District 2. Although Mayor Caren Ray Russom's seat would remain at-large, she lives in District 2 as well.

Originally, Districts 1 and 3 would vote on council members in 2022, and Districts 2 and 4 would vote in 2024. But Matson explained that the City Council had other plans.

"Council agreed to have Districts 1 and 4 go up for election in November 2022, and District 2 and 3 in 2024. Council expressed concerns with both 3 and 4 going up in 2022 due to the short timeframe for possible candidates in those districts to make a decision to run," Matson said. "Council also commented on the demographics in Districts 3 and statistics showing that Latinx populations are more likely to participate in presidential elections. The next one [presidential election] is in 2024, so they expressed support for having District 3 go in 2024 for possible higher voter turnout."

Plan 202 passed in a 4-1 vote, with Russom dissenting in favor of Plan 903. Members of the public can voice their opinions at the ordinance introduction on March 22 and at the ordinance hearing on April 12, where the selected blueprint will be adopted. Written comments can be submitted to publiccomment@arroyogrande.org. Δ

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