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Tonight: Woodside council weighs steps to increase voter turnout

 

Woodside has a history of low voter turnouts for Town Council elections. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, the council will consider making changes to comply with a 2015 state law intended to increase voter participation.

The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the town's Independence Hall, 2955 Woodside Road.

The council will consider moving elections, now held in odd-numbered years, to even-numbered years, when there are statewide general elections and the turnout is usually higher.

The council's seven members run for election once every four years in sets of three and four. The current terms of Mayor Deborah Gordon, Councilman Dave Tanner and Councilwoman Anne Kasten expire in 2017; terms for councilmen Peter Mason, Tom Livermore, Chris Shaw and Daniel Yost expire in 2019.

The options before the council are:

• Either extend each council member's term by a year, thereby advancing the staggered elections to 2018 and 2020, or restructure the elections in 2017 and 2019 to be for three-year or five-year terms.

• Prepare a plan before Jan. 1, 2018, that would realign council elections with statewide general elections by November 2022. Under this scenario, the council could structure the 2017 elections to be for either three-, four- or five-year terms, the 2019 elections for three- or five-year terms, and the 2021 election for three-year terms.

• Ask the voters in November 2017 to choose between options of shortening council member terms, or lengthening them, by one year. No nearby city, town or other public agency has taken this route, Town Manager Kevin Bryant said, adding that he does not recommend it.

Changes to the election schedule require the approval of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

At the Sept. 27 meeting, the council will also consider implementing term limits for council members.

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