ENCINITAS — Encinitas will proceed with its first district-based City Council election in November, after a majority of the council voted against a plan to place the issue of district elections on the ballot in June.
The City Council voted 3-2 against Councilman Tony Kranz’s motion to have voters decide whether they wanted a four-district map with a citywide elected mayor, or a five-district map with a rotating mayor.
Kranz and Councilman Mark Muir voted for the proposal. Muir said that voters should have a chance to weigh in on what he said was the most important issue facing the community.
“I think the conversation has to do with what do we consider an important vote that needs to go to the public,” Muir said. “And for me, I can’t think of a more important issue than this that we take to the voters.”
Muir said that if the council is willing to take the issue of cannabis cultivation to the voters, district elections should be no different.
The divided council voted 3-2 on Nov. 15, 2017, to approve the transition to district elections, as well as the four-district map and sequence of the district elections.
Districts 3 and 4 — currently held by Muir and Councilman Joe Mosca, respectively, are up for election in November 2018, and Districts 1 and 2 — held by Kranz and Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath — are up for election in 2020.
The council majority selected a map referred to as “Map. No. 16,” which was drawn anonymously by Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath. The Coast News originally discovered in a public records request that Boerner Horvath authored the two final maps from which the council selected the final map.
Muir and others have argued that the map appears politically gerrymandered to place Muir’s neighborhood, along Via Cantebria north of Encinitas Boulevard, in the same district as the community of Cardiff-by-the-Sea, and to weaken the voting power of New Encinitas, the largest of the city’s five communities.
Muir, however, asked city staff to bring back an item on a future council agenda to discuss a ballot measure that would ask the public if they would rather want five council districts rather than the approved four districts and a citywide-elected mayor.
“I am disappointed we are going to four,” Muir said in November. “What is happening is anticipated, with the conflict between the different communities and the fact that one is being completely eliminated.”
Encinitas is one of several cities and agencies that has switched its election system after receiving a legal threat from a Malibu-based law firm that alleges that the at-large voting system disenfranchises Latino voters.
San Marcos, Oceanside, Poway and Carlsbad have voted to switch to district elections. A former Poway mayor is suing the city and state in federal court to reverse the decision, arguing that the state law being used to prompt the switches violates the federal Voting Rights Act.