WHY 7 SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS / 

“NO Directly Elected Sunnyvale Mayor”

Demand 7 Single-Member Districts

The at-large directly elected mayor of the 6+1 election model* decided on 6/18/19 by the Sunnyvale City Council would greatly reduce the benefit of going to 7 single-member districts as a remedy to address California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) concerns by reducing the ability of under-represented and minority voters to field and elect a locally supported mayor of their choice. Sunnyvale has never before had a directly elected mayor and it:

  • Was voted down in 1991 and again in 2011 on Sunnyvale ballot measures by a public vote

  • Is contrary to the preference demonstrated by residents during Council’s 2019 public input process

A “6 + 1” election model with a city-wide at-large directly elected mayor will:

  • Continue the practice of racially polarized election practices by greatly reducing the ability of minority candidates to win a city-wide seat.

  • Continue the election funding and control by big business, big real estate development, PACS and out-of-town interests in a city-wide election for mayor.

  • Risk transferring the power from the districts to a ‘strong’ mayor thus diluting the goal of spreading the governing power of truly ‘local’ candidates.

  • Burden the community with the establishment of districts AND the extensive and complicated re-chartering rules for a directly elected mayor at the same time.

 

What will happen if “6 + 1” is voted down in March 2020?

ANSWER: Sunnyvale will adopt 7-single member districts by:

 

EITHER: The City Council can immediately go to a 7 single-member district election system by using the administrative process Government Code 34886.

 

OR: The courts will impose district elections on Sunnyvale 

* “6 + 1” is an election system where one council member is elected from each of 6 districts, and a city-wide at-large mayor is elected, usually with powers greater than the council members. This is generally found in big cities.

 

Santa Clara and San Jose have an at-large directly elected mayor. Mountain View and Palo Alto don't. Which city do you want Sunnyvale to be like?

Oppose an at-large directly elected mayor in Sunnyvale

Vote NO on 6+1 on March 3, 2020

 
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Please Check Back For Updates

Will voting NO on the council's 6+1 Measure in March 2020 distract us from going to district elections?  It is very important to residents that all of Sunnyvale's November 2020 and beyond elected official elections are district-based elections, i.e. no more at-large elections.

Answer: There will be no distraction. 

By voting down the city's measure in March 2020 Sunnyvale will adopt 7 single-member districts by EITHER the City Council immediately going to a 7 single-member district election system by using the administrative process Government Code 34886OR: The courts will impose district elections on Sunnyvale. 

Demand 7 Single-Member Districts in Sunnyvale

Oppose an at-large directly elected mayor in Sunnyvale

How long could a directly elected mayor serve in Sunnyvale if the ballot measure for 6+1 goes forward?

Answer: Possibly 16 of 20 years!

 

Voting down the city's measure in March 2020 avoids possibility of allowing someone to be a council member + separate mayor + council member again for 16 years out of 20 years. This can happen because the City Charter for a directly elected mayor would likely define a separate term limit from the limit on district council members. 

Example: See exactly this described in the failed 2011 Sunnyvale Measure A which voters turned down 63% No to 37% Yes.

2011 Measure A: Shall Charter Sections 600, 601, 602, and 605 be amended to change the current Council-appointed Mayor to a directly-elected Mayor for a 4-year term, to provide an 8-year lifetime term limit for a directly-elected Mayor, and to provide that service as Mayor is not counted toward Council term limits and a person can serve a combined total of 16 years as Mayor and Council member in a twenty-year period?​

How is the 6+1 election model proposal contrary to the preference demonstrated by residents during Phase 1 of the 2019 Sunnyvale district election outreach through Council's 2019 public input process?  
The 6+1 election model proposal is contrary to the preference demonstrated by residents during Phase 1 of the 2019 Sunnyvale election outreach, through a separately commissioned city survey, and the Council’s 2019 public hearing input process:

 

Public input process:

  1. March 21, 2019. Community Input Workshop #1.
    Location: Community Center

    Participants asked for their input by table group. Of approximately 12 table groups, 8 tables said they favored 7 single-member districts with mayor selected from within the council, 2 tables favored a directly elected mayor and 2 tables were ‘other’.

  2. April 4th, 2019. Community Input Workshop #2
    Location: Lakewood Park.
      
    Two groups were asked to create characteristics of districts. One group unanimously favored 7 districts. One group mostly supported another plan. No group supported 6+1.

  3. April 11th, 2019. Community Input Workshop #3
    Location: Murphy Park
    Out of 5 table groups: 3 tables were for 7 districts; 1 table was for 6+1, 1 table was divided with 2/3 in favor of 7 districts. 

  4. June 11th Study Session
    Location: Council Chambers

    Report to Council:

    1. "Selection of a Mayor" survey questionnaire provided in workshops, pop-up events and online engagement showed preference for mayor chosen from within the council. 49% favored, 44% not in favor and 7% other. 

    2. Interestingly, workshop participants who had an opportunity to discuss the pros and cons showed a stronger preference for selecting the mayor from within the council compared to those engaged via pop-ups and online. 

    3. See the FAQ "...polling survey?" for detail on polling. 

  5. June 18th Council Hearing
    Public comments.

    8 speakers were in favor of a March 2020 ballot question for 7 districts, 1 favored ‘6+1’, 3  were okay with either.

Conclusion:
Sunnyvale voters who took the time to participate in outreach workshops, group exercises and who became informed favored 7 single-member districts by a wide margin. 

What are the key disadvantages and risks to Sunnyvale of the  6+1 election system, especially in March 2020?

For over 100 years Sunnyvale has had a council of equals – elected council members with the mayor selected from the city council members by the city council. Sunnyvale currently has 7 equal council members. The proposed ballot measure would change Sunnyvale’s governance system to 6-districts plus one at-large directly elected mayor (a “6+1” election system)

Sunnyvale has never before had a directly elected mayor. 

For 33 years, all attempts to change Sunnyvale’s method of selecting our mayor have failed.

  • The 2011 Sunnyvale Measure A seeking to create a directly elected mayor was turned down by voters by 63% No. 
     

  • A 1991 Sunnyvale ballot measure seeking to create a directly elected mayor also failed by a similar large margin (58.5% No).  
     

  • All attempts have failed in ballot measures, failed in Charter Review Committees and failed in Study Sessions with city council for good reasons which have not changed.
     

Disadvantages and risks of a “6 + 1” election model with a directly elected at-large Mayor include:

  • The 6+1 election model dilutes the California Voting Rights Act benefits by greatly reducing the ability of under-represented and minority voters to field and elect a locally supported mayor of their choice. 
     

  • A 6+1 election system allows the creation of political dynasties and revolving door politicians by allowing elected officials to extend their maximum elected terms by being a council member + separate mayor + council member. ​
     

  • A 6+1 election system would cause Sunnyvale to lose our equal elected members and would eliminate the city council's existing power to remove a mayor by a vote of at least 5 to 2 if an at-large directly elected mayor were ever allowed in Sunnyvale.
     

  • In a 6+1 election system additional powers could be granted to a directly elected at-large mayor in the future despite any claims otherwise. 
     

  • A 6+1 election system risks transferring the power from the districts to a ‘strong’ mayor thus diluting the goal of spreading the governing power of truly ‘local’ candidates. 
     

  • The cost of running an at-large council campaign can be proportionally 7x to 10x the cost of single-member district elections - upwards of $70K to $100K for at-large elections. This enormous difference would dissuade some well qualified candidates from under-represented and minority communities from even considering running for an at-large position. 

    • In a 7 single-member district election system (about 8,500 voters per district in Sunnyvale) an effective campaign can be run with a $10K-$15K campaign budget for ALL elected city positions.   
       

    • With 7 single-member districts a candidate's $15K budget can hold off a much higher multiple of direct and Independent Expenditure spending because the candidate can more readily reach a large portion of those 8,500 voters personally in the community and door-to-door with their true established relationships with the local community.
       

    • Competition who over spends and over sends 8 or 10 or 12 fancy and expensive flyers, mailers, newspaper advertisements gains little positive value over the two mailers the candidate with the $15K budget sends.
       

  • Trying to force a directly elected mayor change in March 2020 is unrelated to moving to districts to satisfy CVRA concerns, this attempt is additionally:
     

    • Is an attempt to circumvent term limits. 

      • ​Extending the effective term limits of council members who can serve in the capacity of council member and mayor:

        • Increases the difficulty for challengers to run successfully against an incumbent. 

        • Enhances the influence of PACs, developers and out-of-town donors over an officeholder.
           

    • Is an attempt to get around the district elections remedy for CVRA concerns by ensuring Sunnyvale has of four (4) at-large council members until 2022 - i.e. a majority of council members.

      • Note that three council members elected in 2018 - Larsson, Hendricks and Fong - will already continue to serve as at-large members until 2022.

      • Why then is council rushing to confuse and risk the March 2020 ballot measure by attempting to combine an unrelated at-large mayor change? 

    • A 6+1 election system burdens the community with the establishment of districts AND the extensive and complicated re-chartering rules for a directly elected mayor at the same time.

    • Is putting Sunnyvale at continued risk of a new claim of a CVRA violation in the future.  "6+1" may NOT fix the city’s voting rights violation in the view of new parties.
       

    • Puts our Taxpayer Dollars and Community at risk.

       

When we have 7 districts and one council member is chosen as mayor from amongst their peers, do they still support their district?

Answer: Yes, a council member selected as mayor by council peers still supports their district, as well as the duties defined in our existing Council-City Manager form of government. The same is true for the vice mayor selected from within the council members as well as all council members serving on Intergovernmental bodies. ​

 

Sunnyvale has a Council-City Manager governance model. The City Manager is the city's Chief Executive and the city council is the policy body.

 

  • The Sunnyvale city council are 7 equal members – elected council members with the mayor and vice mayor selected from the city council members by the city council. The mayor and vice mayor each get one vote, the same as all council members. The mayor and vice mayor have small additional responsibilities as defined in the City Charter.
     

  • No council member has more power than another on council, not by being mayor or vice mayor, nor by virtue of serving on various intergovernmental bodies. The City Charter defines the terms of office and certain procedural requirements for the selection and removal of the Mayor.
     

  • The city council has the power to remove the mayor from the office of the mayor prior to expiration of his/her term by a motion of the City Council adopted by the affirmative votes of at least five members of the City Council. See City Charter Section 605.


A elected council of equal members and the right and power of the council to remove a mayor by a vote of at least 5 to 2 would most certainly be lost if an at-large directly elected mayor were ever allowed in Sunnyvale.

What was the result of the last ballot measure in 2011 in Sunnyvale promoting a directly elected mayor?
Answer: Rejected by a margin of nearly 2 (against) to 1 (for)

 

The 2011 Sunnyvale Measure A which sought to create a directly elected mayor was turned down by voters by 63% No to 37% Yes

 

A 1991 Sunnyvale ballot measure seeking to create a directly elected mayor also failed by a similar large margin (58.5% No).  

For 33 years, all attempts to change Sunnyvale’s method of selecting our mayor have failed. 

2011 Measure A: Shall Charter Sections 600, 601, 602, and 605 be amended to change the current Council-appointed Mayor to a directly-elected Mayor for a 4-year term, to provide an 8-year lifetime term limit for a directly-elected Mayor, and to provide that service as Mayor is not counted toward Council term limits and a person can serve a combined total of 16 years as Mayor and Council member in a twenty-year period?​

How is the 6+1 election model proposal contrary to the preference demonstrated by residents during Phase 1 of the 2019 Sunnyvale district election outreach through a separately commissioned polling survey?

Polling results:

Reported at June 11th, 2019 Council study session.  

  1. City commissioned poll (taken between May 15-18, 2019) via landline / cell telephone, text to online and email to online interviewing. Results of 528 persons. 

  2. Two groups were polled regarding 7 districts and 6+1. 

    1. Group A: 268 persons were asked about 7 districts.  

    2. Group B: 260 persons were asked about 6+1.  

  3. Results:

    1. Initially group A participants favored 7 districts at 48.1%, but after educational questions, Group A favored 7 districts by 58.5% (with a 65% to 53% statistical spread). 

    2. Initially Group B participants favored 6+1 at 52.6%, but after educational questions, Group B favored 6+1 at 54.9% (with a 61% to 49% statistical spread).  

 

Conclusion
This poll shows that, once informed, Sunnyvale voters both favored 7 districts more highly than 6+1 and after educational questions it showed a more than 10% improvement in the favorability of 7 districts where 6+1 only showed a 2.3% improvement.  

 

The pollster concluded that given the margin of error of +/- ~6%, the 7 district city council election proposal has a stronger chance of success, but the 6+1 might fail if placed on the March 2020 ballot.

What are the key advantages of a 7 single-member district election system to meet CVRA concerns for Sunnyvale and our under-represented and minority communities?  

Key advantages of 7 single-member districts for Sunnyvale and our under-represented and minority communities include: 

  • Increased Council and Mayor Opportunities:

    • Provides 15% more opportunity (7 district seats vs 6) for under-represented and minority communities to field and elect local council candidates of their choice. 

    • More opportunities to serve as mayor by maintaining the existing 2 year mayoral term, selected by their peers on the city council. 

  • Supports Equal Representation and Shared Local Governing:

    • Ensures the city council remains 7 equal members and that no council member has more power than another.

    • Maintains shared governing power between truly "local" representatives. 

    • Keeps open the future possibility of a rotating mayor among council members through additional City Charter changes. 
       

  • Lowers Campaign Costs:

    • Levels the campaign playing field for ALL candidates for elected office.  

    • Reduces the influence of PACs and Big Money interests on Sunnyvale's elections by eliminating ALL at-large council seats and elected positions

    • Enables an effective campaign to be run with a $10K-$15K campaign budget for ALL elected city positions.  
       

  • 7 Single-Member Districts Support Good Government By:

    • Avoids political dynasties and revolving door politicians

    • Brings in fresh ideas and new representatives more often

    • Keeps council term limits to 8 years out of 12 years.   

What is the difference between a mayor chosen by council members and a directly elected mayor? How long has Sunnyvale had a mayor chosen by the council from within their members?  

Answers: The material difference between a mayor chosen by council peers (whether rotational or council appointed) and a directly elected mayor is vast.  In a single-member district election scenario, which we are quickly moving into, the only person who can become the mayor is 1 of the 7 that have already been elected in a local district where they are known. 

 

Sunnyvale has had a mayor chosen from within the council, by a vote of fellow council members, for decades.  A change occurred a few years ago to modify the term from 1 year to 2 which eliminated the expectation that the next most senior council member would rotate into the mayoral slot. ​

  • Remember, district elections are a remedy to a CVRA violation and a principle reason for the need for this law is to prevent the scenarios of at-large elections which influence elections and prevent under-represented and minority voters from fielding a locally supported mayor of their choice. The CVRA bases its reasoning on the claim that smaller districts will produce grass roots leaders in part because those elections are less costly to run.
     

  • In a at-large city-wide directly elected mayor scenario, virtually anyone could move to Sunnyvale and in short order run or be put up for election, backed by out-of-town and real estate developer support.  See graphic below
     

  • Developer and PAC support has flooded into Sunnyvale elections since 2013. Thus, the power to elect truly locally supported candidates will remain elusive without electing ALL of our elected officials exclusively from single-member districts, i.e. no more at-large elections. 
     

  • The notion that this proposed creation of a new at-large position would not be a “strong mayor” given additional powers is unfounded as the language to determine their role has not been established, nor have the extensive and complicated re-chartering rules been vetted publicly through Study Sessions and a Charter Review Committee.
     

  • For 33 years, all attempts to change Sunnyvale’s method of selecting our mayor have failed

Who do Sunnyvale voters believe will make the best choices for our community : Real estate developers, PACs, out-of-town money and influences or Sunnyvale residents and voters? 

 

Even if the position of a newly created at-large directly elected mayor was not immediately given the powers of a “strong mayor” at first, the rules could be changed once the position is in place.  We have seen a lot of rules change in the past several years in Sunnyvale.  

By The Numbers #1 - Another Reason for 7 Districts

Reference City of Sunnyvale NetFile Filings
https://public.netfile.com/pub2/?aid=COS

  • In 2018 alone Direct Donations from PACs to three at-large council candidates exceeded $25,000 and Independent Expenditures in support of those same three at-large council candidates totaled over $133,000! 

  • In 2016 the National Association of Realtors and three other PACs spent more than $144,000 to oppose a Sunnyvale ballot initiative. 

  • Adopting a 7 single-member district election system in Sunnyvale will level the campaign playing field for ALL candidates for city council and will enhance the ability of under-represented and minority voters to field and elect locally supported candidates of their choice.

​ 

Donation Laundering_2019-08-29.jpg

By The Numbers #2 - Another Reason for 7 Districts

Reference City of Sunnyvale NetFile Filings
 https://public.netfile.com/pub2/?aid=COS

  • In the 2018 election out-of-town direct donation dollars to three of the at-large candidates' campaigns were greater than 60% to nearly 80% of those candidates' donation dollars. 
     

  • In the 2018 election Independent Expenditures made in support of three of the at-large candidates totaled between $30K to nearly $70K per candidate and those Independent Expenditure funds were over 65% to nearly 80% from out-of-town interests.

​ 

At-Large 2018 Election Funding Compariso
Will the seven council members elected by district understand and take responsibility for city-wide issues?

Answer: Yes. Each of the 7 equal council members will be elected by their districts, but they do not just represent their district. As has been spoken and discussed in public hearings from both the council Dais and the public, Sunnyvale’s cultural norms and expectations will continue so that each of the 7 council members thus elected by district will be expected and held accountable by the community to consider the residents and city as a whole as they also represent their districts.

 

  • Candidates for district council seats will need to understand city-wide issues,  just as they do now. 
     

  • Any implications of district infighting and inability of seven council members to work together for the city as a whole are unfounded.
     

  • We still have 3 at-large council members until 2022, as the community learned at the July 15th map-drawing kick-off meeting, but not in the June 18th or earlier council deliberations.
     

Therefore, the seven Sunnyvale council members elected by districts will continue to be strong advocates of the city as a whole and there is no rush whatsoever to confuse and risk the March 2020 ballot measure. 

 

Also see the HOME page video messages 

How do single-member district elections help lower the cost of running for Sunnyvale city council? 

The campaign spending example below demonstrates that $10K to $15K should be plenty to run a district-based Sunnyvale election for ALL elected city positions. 

 

  1. It costs roughly $1/voter to get mailers out the minimum two times (remember there are many 2+ voter households).
     

  2. Add in yard signs and flyers and other incidentals and it can be $1.50 per voter to get your message out and get some name recognition. 
     

  3. There are approximately 8,500 voters per district with 7 single-member districts (60,000 voters / 7 = 8,571)
     

  4. Estimated cost to run a district-based election:
    $1.50 per voter = (8,500 voters x $1.50) = $12,750 
    (remember there are many 2+ voter households)

     

  5. Therefore $10K to $15K should be plenty to run a district-based Sunnyvale election.

But what about running against a well funded competing candidate who tries to overwhelm a Sunnyvale elected office race financially, who accepts and solicits large amounts of direct donations from out-of-town interests and PACs and who draws Independent Expenditure support?  

With single-member districts a candidate's $15K budget can easily hold off a much higher multiple of direct and Independent Expenditure campaign spending because:

  • A single-member district candidate can more readily reach a large portion of those 8,500 voters personally in the community and door-to-door with their true established relationships with the local community AND
     

  • A competing candidate and Independent Expenditure funding which over spends and over sends 8 or 10 or 12 fancy and expensive flyers/mailers/newspaper advertisements gains little positive value over the two mailers the local candidate with the $15K budget sends.  

    • In fact the behavior of these candidates, PACs and out-of-town interests and their attempts to overwhelm financially a Sunnyvale elected office race may indeed be more noticeable in single-member district elections for voters to take into consideration for their votes. 

 

With ANY Sunnyvale at-large election the "buy in" rate grows and becomes an impediment to the ability of under-represented and minority voters to field and elect locally supported candidates of their choice for elected city positions.

 

District Election Fun Fact #1

The cost of running an at-large council campaign can be proportionally 7x to 10x the cost of single-member district elections - upwards of $70K to $100K for at-large elections. This enormous difference would dissuade some well qualified candidates from under-represented and minority communities from even considering running for an at-large position. In a 7 single-member district election system (about 8,500 voters per district in Sunnyvale) an effective campaign can be run with a $10K-$15K campaign budget for ALL elected city positions.  

Conclusions:

This financial analysis has demonstrated the importance of Sunnyvale moving to 7 single-member districts to level the campaign playing field for ALL candidates for city council and to, once again, turn down a citywide at-large directly elected mayor in our community.

 

Only by voting NO on 6+1 on March 3, 2020 will Sunnyvale's under-represented and minority voters be empowered to field and elect locally supported candidates of their choice for ALL elected city positions.

Isn't 6+1 good enough? 

No. Don't let anyone tell you a "6+1" election model that creates a new at-large mayor position is "good enough" for Sunnyvale residents and minority communities.

The "6+1" election model which proposes to create a new at-large city-wide mayor with other council members by-district serves the interests of the politicians, not the residents and certainly not our under-represented and minority communities! 

By voting down the city's measure in March 2020 Sunnyvale will adopt 7 single-member districts. 

Demand 7 Single-Member Districts in Sunnyvale

Oppose an at-large directly elected mayor in Sunnyvale

 
 

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