Special meeting scheduled for district-based elections, local committee to develop district maps looking for members

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council is expected to hold a special meeting regarding district-based elections Tuesday, when the public will have a chance to comment virtually. 

Council members are expected to convene at City Hall for a closed session meeting to discuss “anticipated litigation” related to a California Voting Rights Act letter sent to the city by attorney Scott Rafferty. On March 19, they adopted a resolution declaring the city’s intention to transition from at-large to district-based elections for City Council. 

The special meeting is expected to commence with an opportunity for public participation, followed by a closed session meeting with the council members and their legal counsel, and then conclude in open session. City Attorney Joseph Montes is expected to provide any possible update from the closed session before the conclusion of the meeting.

While Tuesday’s meeting will not be a public hearing, members of the public will still have an opportunity to offer comment remotely using Zoom, due to the safety measures ordered amid the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar ID is 921-8707-6874 and the password is 23920. Participants can also dial 669-900-9128.

To provide written comments, the public may submit one electronically by visiting santa-clarita.com/writtencomment or submit a speaker card via santa-clarita.com/speakersignup at least two hours before the start time.

A public hearing on the transition to district-based elections remains pending due to the extended safer-at-home order through May 15. 

Santa Clarita Independent Districting Committee looks for members

As a new date is rescheduled, some members of the community have formed the Santa Clarita Independent Districting Committee to develop district maps for the city’s consideration, former congressional staffer Jonathan Ahmadi, who is spearheading the group, announced Monday. 

The city is expected to retain the services of a demographer for the hearings and drafting process, which will include receiving feedback from the public. The Independent Districting Committee plans to provide its input. 

The committee plans to present its suggestions “through the process the city made available and then we would submit the maps for consideration,” Ahmadi said in late March after announcing he was suspending his run for City Council to focus on the new committee. 

Joining Ahmadi will be former Santa Clarita Planning Commissioner Diane Trautman and College of the Canyons professors Jason Burgdorfer and Phil Gussin. Five additional members will be selected through an application process. Applications, which will be accepted through April 26, can be accessed via the Santa Clarita Independent Districting Committee Facebook page. 

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