How many people are on the City Council?
Five council members elected to four-year terms represent Palm Desert residents. This will not change.
What is changing in Palm Desert’s Election Process?
Starting in November 2020, Palm Desert will move from an at-large election process where voters across the city vote for all members of the City Council to a two-district system. Voters in each district area will choose their representatives, who must also live in that district area.
What is a two-district election process?
The City of Palm Desert’s two-district election process is an innovative win-win solution that embraces the values and intent of the California Voting Rights Act and helps fulfill longtime municipal goals identified in the City’s strategic and general plans, resulting in a more fully defined downtown Palm Desert.
How will the two-district election process work?
The City will create a new downtown district from which one council member will be elected. The remaining four council members will continue to be elected at-large from the surrounding district.
How did we get here?
The innovative two-district election process follows the City’s legal settlement related to the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). This settlement embraces the goals of the CVRA and preserves the integrity and unity of the community while saving the City millions in potential legal fees.
What is the California Voting Rights Act?
In 2001, the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) was enacted to implement California’s constitutional guarantees of equal protection and the right to vote. The CVRA expands on voting rights granted under the federal Voting Rights Act by, among other things, lessening the burden for communities to challenge at-large elections systems that dilute their ability to elect a candidate of their choice. Jurisdictions can be sued if they elect their governing body using an at-large system rather than a system with districts. If the court rules against the jurisdiction, the jurisdiction must change its election system and pay for attorneys, experts and other expenses incurred by the City and the plaintiffs.
What are the terms of the settlement?
The settlement will create a new downtown district represented by one elected City Council member as well as a larger surrounding district from which four Council members will be elected at-large. The settlement also calls for the implementation, if feasible, of Ranked Choice Voting in both districts.
What is the new downtown district?
The new downtown district generally includes El Paseo, San Pablo Avenue, and Civic Center-adjacent neighborhoods. Its final boundaries will be determined with input from residents.
What is Ranked Choice Voting?
Ranked Choice Voting is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference. This system is used for state primary, congressional, and presidential (2020) elections in Maine and in certain local jurisdictions across the nation, including some in California.
What role do community members have in this decision?
While the two-district solution is prescribed in the legal settlement, the City of Palm Desert wants to hear from community members as we fine-tune the final district boundaries and identify neighborhoods with common concerns.
What can community members expect from the City of Palm Desert in this transition?
The City of Palm Desert is committed to hearing from all our community members. We will be conducting community meetings to keep you informed of what is happening and continue learning about what is important to you.
Who will draw and approve the final district maps?
Although there will not be a public vote on the districts, the City’s interest is to achieve a final map that ensures the voices and votes of all Palm Desert residents are heard and represented. After a series of public hearings, the City Council will vote on the final maps.
Where can I find more information?
Community members are invited to our first informational Open House on Wednesday, January 15 at 6 p.m. at the Palm Desert Community Center or visit www.representpd.org.
For more information about the Open House and how to participate, please call Palm Desert City Hall at 760-776-6380 or visit www.representpd.org.
What can I expect at the Open House?
The Open House offers an opportunity for a conversation. Third party facilitators will engage us in a dialogue where community members can learn about the changes in the City’s election process and opportunities for continued engagement on this topic. Equally important, the City’s representatives can continue to learn about what is important to you as we prepare for these changes.