Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) was expected to authorize a switch to future elections by areas, replacing the current system of districtwide elections.
The board was set to act on May 21, after The Independent’s deadline.
Board members already completed the process of holding hearings on proposed maps showing five districts. The winning map was named Scarlet, an update of the Red map.
Very few people turned out at four hearings to give opinions about how the wards should be drawn, said DSRSD spokesperson Sue Stephenson. As a result, DSRSD turned to the Next Door website, where neighbors post information for their neighbors to read. The Scarlet map was the most popular, with more than 100 votes.
In drawing up the maps, the board worked to balance representation between Dublin and San Ramon, not an easy task, considering the population differential between the two cities within DSRSD. The Dublin side contains 29,311 registered voters, and San Ramon 22,539, as of May 17 this year. Total registration adds up to 51,850.
To correct the imbalance, the map shows Ward 3 straddling the county line, with most of it west of I-680 in both cities. However, a small part of it is east of I-680 in Dublin.
Wards 4 and 5 are wholly within Dublin, and 1 and 2 are within San Ramon.
EFFECTS ON FALL 2020 ELECTION
Adoption of the map has the potential to pit some directors against each other in the new wards.
“Wards” is a term that Stephenson used to clarity the map’s districts. She said it can be confusing to refer to “election districts,” since DSRSD is a special services district. Ward is a word used by EBMUD and EBRPD, both special services districts like DSRSD, for their map boundaries. Stephenson said that it is too early in the process for DSRSD to determine what the areas will be called. So far, the board has referred to them as “election areas.”
Board president Maddi Misheloff and director Rich Halket live in Ward 3, so if both decide to run, they will be facing each other. Other residents can file for the seat, too.
No incumbent resides in Wards 1 and 5. DSRSD would be recruiting people to run for those seats. Stephenson said that an opportune time to reach out to applicants would be in the spring of 2020, when DSRSD plans to hold its “water academy,” a series of orientation meetings about DSRSD’s mission in water delivery, wastewater treatment, and water recycling.
In the 2022 elections, seats for Wards 2 and 4 will be placed on the ballot. Incumbent Georgeanne Vonheeder Leopold lives in Ward 4. Incumbents Ed Duarte and Ann Marie Johnson reside in Ward 2. Both of them cannot remain on the board after the 2020 election, because that would put membership at one over the five-seat limit. The board determined that Johnson, who was elected in 2018, should finish her four-year term. Duarte, who was elected in 2016, will go off the board for two years, and be eligible to run again in the 2022 election.
ATTORNEY PRAISES DSRSD DECISION
Scott Rafferty, the Walnut Creek attorney whose demand letter led to the DSRSD decision to conduct ward elections, praised the board. He told a reporter, “I think DSRSD is doing it right. I hope people appreciate their integrity. Two of them are going to leave the board, but they will be leaving the district better than they found it.”
The two leaving the board are Duarte, who won’t be eligible to run until the 2022 election, instead of the 2020 election, and either Misheloff or Halket, who would be running against each other in Ward 3, if they both choose to run. If one decides not to run, that person will be leaving the board.
Rafferty sent the demand letter as allowed under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), in an effort to create smaller districts where minority people could have a better chance to win one seat on a board, to bring in more diverse points of view.
In the I-680 corridor, Rafferty’s demand letter went to DSRSD, the city councils in Danville, San Ramon, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, and the San Ramon Valley Fire District. The jurisdictions are at various levels of considering or moving toward adopting the ward elections.