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Should Menlo Park change council elections?

Original post made on Aug 27, 2013

Menlo Park, like most cities of similar size, elects at-large council members -- in this case, five -- that represent the entire city. But Vice Mayor Ray Mueller, serving his first term on the council, is wondering whether that leaves some areas of the community under-represented.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 27, 2013, 8:26 AM

Comments (12)

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Posted by reality
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 27, 2013 at 10:54 am

If the city was broken up into three districts, Flood Triangle and the Willows would likely be in the same district as Belle Haven. If the most recent election was by district, Fergusson would have been elected over Clarke and Bragg. Encouraging and supporting three candidates from Belle Haven to run for the Ravenswood School Board could have a much greater impact on the Belle Haven community.

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Posted by long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Menlo Park is not so big that this is necessary. I want all of the council members to have an interest in the entire community. I worry that district elections would result in balkanization that would be bad for everyone.

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Posted by Former Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2013 at 4:52 pm

When I grew up in Menlo Park, the five councilmembers were very similar, running the city well but at the same time heavily tied to the business community.

Where I live now, we have six districts plus an at-large mayor. more interests are represented, and I think that it works far, far better. I hope we never change.

While Menlo Park is far different than where I am now, I think something like we have would be good for Menlo Park, either five districts electing a mayor, or four districts with an at-large mayor.

By the way, even though he is long gone, Mike Belangie was one of those five at-large councilmembers, he is still a hero to me, and I still think of him often. Just because seats are at-large does not mean that there will not be good councilmembers.

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Posted by Redistrict!
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm

We rarely see a council member from one of the neighborhoods bordering El Camino (Allied Arts, Linfield Oaks, Felton Gables) yet those areas are typically the most affected by city decisions. Council members who live in Sharon Heights may be clueless about the concerns of residents living in the middle of Menlo Park.

Seven council members, five by district and two at large. Problem solved.

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Posted by Gov't Out of Control
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 28, 2013 at 12:42 am

I would prefer no at large council members. The mayor can be elected at large. So each council member would represent a district of voters, and the number of voters in each district is as equal as possible to ensure one voter, one vote.

I don't like the at large approach because the candidates can be bankrolled and controlled by the developer interests, and the unions.

The needs of the different neighborhoods are diverging more and more, and the more populous neighborhoods need voices and council members beholden to them.

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Posted by CVRA
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 3, 2017 at 2:31 pm

it's time for equity.

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Posted by about schools
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 3, 2017 at 4:07 pm

A visioning process identified education as the number one issue of concern with Belle Haven residents. Improving the Ravenswood School District will address these concerns.

Mueller's proposal leaves his own election cycle unchanged, himself and another council member in the Las Lomitas school district. Breaking Menlo Park into three districts would in no way ensure victory for a Belle Haven candidate as the community East of 101 is only about ten percent of the voting population. Also, voters in the new high density housing on Haven Ave may not have the same concerns as the current population, although fixing the school district would be a common goal.

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Posted by Lawyer
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2017 at 4:31 pm

If sued, the California Voting Rights Act will require the City split into four districts with the election of an at large Mayor, or five districts with a rotating Mayor. Current Councilmembers would finish their present terms and then their seats would automatically convert to the district system. Mueller's proposal in 2013 was creative. However it doesn't take a Council proposal to accomplish district elections. It's the law and Cities much smaller than Menlo Park have be held accountable under the California Voters Rights Act.

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Posted by Vista
a resident of another community
on Jul 3, 2017 at 5:57 pm

The city of Vista recently switched to disctric elections. With just under 100,000 residents, Vist is about theee times the size of Menlo Park. The Latino popation of Vista is around 50% of the total, but the council did not represent that diversity.

If you were to slice Menlo Park into five districts, would any ethnic group make up a majority on any District? There may be other factors than race at play. Otaku is Japanese, so it may be difficult to make a case that ethnicity is a facor.

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Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 3, 2017 at 8:34 pm

Ray is serving his second term as is Cat, Kirsten and Peter. Rich is serving is third term. Menlo Park is way too small to have Districts. Yes some Council members are clueless (mainly two who served on Council in the early nineties) but is has nothing to do with where they live.

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Posted by Lawyer
a resident of another community
on Jul 4, 2017 at 6:12 am

San Juan Capistrano was forced under the CVRA to go to District Elections. It's population is smaller than Menlo Park. Also interestingly, at one time it had a Councilmember named Kerry Ferguson who lived just one block from another Councilmember.

2 people like this
Posted by breakdown
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 4, 2017 at 11:16 am

The population breakdown by race of these two cities according to areavibes.

San Juan Capistrano
70.98% Caucasian
21.69% Other race
_5.00% Asian
_2.45% Mixed race
_0.93% American Indian
_0.35% African American
_0.29% Native Hawaiian

Menlo Park
72.71% Caucasian
10.93% Asian
_5.12% African American
_4.97% Other race
_4.08% Mixed race
_1.84% Native Hawaiian
_0.34% American Indian

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