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Familiar faces amid Los Angeles County’s changing of the guard

Familiar faces amid Los Angeles County’s changing of the guard

Last week’s swearing-in of new county officials has been billed as a changing of the guard. But it’s actually more like an existing team getting new uniforms.

Supervisor Hilda Solis has named Peter Hong, who once worked for Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, as her chief of staff. And Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s staff relies heavily on people who worked for her predecessor, Zev Yaroslavsky — starting with her chief of staff, Lisa Mandel.

Of her 23-person corps, eight had worked for Yaroslavsky and several others had experience with former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Kuehl said her staff “is a wonderfully experienced group, able to hit the ground running.”

Kuehl’s ceremony also marked a rare local public appearance by Villaraigosa, who was one of the featured speakers. He had been Assembly speaker when Kuehl was elected as the first gay state legislator.

DIVERSITY STUDY

Despite its diversity, Los Angeles County is falling behind in the political representation of minorities and women, a study from Loyola Marymount University finds.

The Politics of Inclusion,” developed by students at the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center, shows that in the 100 top elected positions, whites and African-Americans remain overrepresented. Latinos, Asian-Americans and women have fewer representatives than their share of the population. And women, who are half the population, hold 28 of the top offices.

“Part of what we see here is expected,” said Professor Fernando Guerra, director of the center. “When elections only happen every two or four years and incumbents have the advantage, there’s a lag between population changes and the makeup of the political establishment.”

At Los Angeles City Hall, only one of the 15 council members is a woman. The county is faring better, with two of the five supervisors and the district attorney female.

PARKS JOINS BALLOT FIGHT

Councilman Bernard Parks, who terms out of office next year, is not going away quietly.

Parks announced last week that he will be joining with the East Area Progressive Democrats to fight a March ballot proposal aimed at changing the city election dates to even-numbered years to increase voter turnout.

Parks has been designated as the person writing the ballot arguments against the measure.

Writing in favor of the change is the aforementioned Guerra of Loyola Marymount and California Common Cause Director Kathay Feng. Guerra and Feng served on the Municipal Election Reform Commission, which recommended the change.

Parks and others in opposition question whether the move would even increase voter participation and could instead work to diminish interest in local political matters.

DO I KNOW YOU?

From the Fame is Fleeting Department: Former Supervisor Yarsoslavsky said last week that he went to the city credit union for some routine business.

“They asked for my name and an ID,” he said. “Then the person said to me, ‘You look familiar.’ ”

Organized labor to have greater influence at L.A. County Board of Supervisors, panel says

Organized labor to have greater influence at L.A. County Board of Supervisors, panel says

A panel of political pundits Friday predicted organized labor’s largess will grow at the Board of Supervisors, more Asian voters will go for Republicans, and abysmally low voter turnouts will be the norm except in presidential elections.

With more than a century of experience in Southern California politics gathered in the Courtyard Marriott in Baldwin Park for a program billed as “Election 2014 in Review: The San Gabriel Valley and Beyond,” five top political analysts traded opinions on the future of regional politics.

Most agreed that the election of former U.S. Labor Secretary under President Barack Obama, La Puente-native Hilda Solis who replaced Gloria Molina, and labor-backed candidate Sheila Kuehl who replaced Zev Yaroslavsky on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last month would increase the power of public employee labor unions, such as the SEIU and the California Teachers Association.

“Absolutely labor won and they will have access,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles and a political science professor at Loyola Marymount University.

Hal Dash, chairman and CEO of Cerell Associates, a political consulting firm in Los Angeles, said the two new supervisors, along with veteran Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas may function as a pro-labor bloc. “What do these new supervisors owe to labor?” he asked.

The election of several Asian Republican women to positions of power in Orange County and eastern Los Angeles County stirred debate.

“They are showing Asian-American voters there can be a path to election within the GOP,” said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book and a Republican political consultant.

Hoffenblum cited the election of Diamond Bar councilwoman Ling-Ling Chang to the Assembly as an example, as well as Young Kim of north Orange County taking the seat of Democratic Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and Janet Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American, winning the 34 state senatorial district. Nguyen took the place of Democrat Lou Correa who termed out.

But Guerra called the election of Asian candidates within the Republican Party “an anomaly” and said the statistics show Asians are voting more Democratic. “The Republican Party is losing Asians to a faster degree than Latinos,” he added.

Mike Shimpock, a consultant to Democratic candidates with SG&A Campaigns, said in an interview that many Asian voters were swayed by a Republican email blitz over SCA-5, a ill-fated Democratic legislative effort to bring back ethnic and racial quotas to state university enrollment.

Shimpock also said Asian voters are more likely to vote for other Asian candidates, regardless of party affiliation, more so than Latino Democrats who will vote for the candidate in their party even if he or she is not Latino.

Most of the panelists said Democrat voters in the San Gabriel Valley are more moderate than Democrat voters along coastal Los Angeles and in San Francisco. Dash described San Gabriel Valley registered Democrats as similar to those in the San Joaquin Valley.

Many were frustrated when moderator Zach Courser, associate director of the Dreier Roundtable at Claremont McKenna College, asked them why Los Angeles County voter turnout hit a record low of 25.2 percent in November. The previous low was 43 percent.

The experts attributed the dwindling interest to a lack of wedge issues in the county and a lackluster gubernatorial election at the top of the ticket easily won by Jerry Brown.

“It is apocalyptic. It (low voter turnout) warps elections and alters those who show up at the polls,” Shimpock said.

Guerra, half-jokingly, said the only way to increase voter participation during off-election years is to hold a lottery and reward one voter with a $100,000 cash prize.

He more seriously suggested combining municipal elections that take place in the Spring with November elections. Voters visited by city council candidates from Claremont to Pasadena in February and March will most likely say: “You’re late. We just had an election” not realizing city elections are often held in March and April, he said.

Guerra said statistics show Los Angeles County voters vote in big numbers during presidential elections only. “People turn out to vote when they think it matters and they only think the president matters,” he told the moderator.

First & Spring A push to increase L.A. voter turnout

First & Spring A push to increase L.A. voter turnout

LA’s political leaders hit the jackpot six years ago, persuading voters to approve three tax increases on the same election ballot — one for schools, another for colleges and a third to expand the county’s transportation network.

The outpouring of generosity came in an election year with enormous turnout. Nearly 83% of Los Angeles voters cast ballots in November 2008, many lured by the prospect of choosing Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American president.

Now, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson is looking to persuade voters to hold all city and school board elections in even-numbered years, when higher-profile state and federal contests are on the ballot. The move is part of a push to increase voter participation, particularly among young adults and people of color. But some believe the change will also produce, intentionally or not, another result: making it easier for City Hall to win passage of new tax increases.

If the change in election dates is approved by voters March 3, “you’ll see more tax measures … supported by well-funded special interests,” said Mike Eveloff, president of the nonprofit advocacy group Fix the City. The pool of voters will expand so much, he said, “that only well-funded special interests will be able to reach that larger electorate.”

Eveloff hasn’t decided whether to support Propositions 1 and 2, which would move city and school board elections to even-numbered years starting in 2020. But his warnings of an increase in tax measures raises a larger question: If L.A., in its bid to reinvigorate democracy at the local level, succeeds in getting more people to cast ballots, how might that affect City Hall decision-making?

For decades, Los Angeles has conducted its city and school board contests in odd-numbered years, three to four months after big November state and federal elections. The timing has been confusing for many voters, contributing to lower turnout. The voters who do show up tend to be whiter, older and more skeptical about City Hall leadership and ballot proposals, political experts say.

In 2009, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was running for reelection, L.A. voters narrowly defeated a solar energy proposal backed by the Department of Water and Power, a surprising step for an environmentally friendly city. In the 2011 city election, voters imposed a tax on medical marijuana but rejected one on oil production.

And during last year’s low-turnout mayoral election, voters handily vanquished a sales tax hike — one championed by Wesson as a way to balance the city’s budget.

The council president initially received polling data showing his proposed sales tax hike had nearly 2-to-1 support among likely voters. But on election day, with only 20.8% of voters casting ballots, the measure failed to win even a simple majority. Harvey Englander, a lobbyist and political consultant who worked on the campaign, said turnout would have needed to reach at least 30% for the tax to pass. “When you have a low voter turnout, it’s generally a more conservative turnout,” he added.

Wesson would not draw a link between last year’s anemic turnout and the defeat of the tax increase. A much bigger problem for the sales tax, he said, was the opposition from every major mayoral candidate. Wesson also bristled at the idea that changing election dates is about anything other than getting more people to the polls.

While talking up the two March ballot measures, Wesson has hammered on the importance of voter turnout to a democracy, citing the historic civil rights struggles of African Americans and more recent battles against voter ID laws in other parts of the country. “For me, increasing the turnout is personal, OK?” he said.

Still, one high-profile civic leader says higher voter turnout is indeed likely to change City Hall.

Kathay Feng, executive director of the watchdog group California Common Cause, said younger and minority voters — those who show up in greater numbers for state and federal elections — are more likely to support higher taxes, wage increases, greater investment in education and efforts to protect renters. “When we change the electorate to be more reflective of the public at large, there will be different decisions,” she said.

Feng served on two citizen commissions that recommended the change in election dates for city contests. She says she supports the switch because of the need to address the city’s “abysmal” turnout, not out of a desire for policy changes at City Hall.

When Wesson brought the March ballot proposals before the council, he invited both Feng and attorney Darry Sragow to talk about the potential benefits. Sragow, a former political consultant, helped the Los Angeles Unified School District win voter approval of four school construction bond measures — essentially property tax hikes — between 1997 and 2008. During his testimony, he told lawmakers that those types of measures typically perform better in state and federal election years.

————

FOR THE RECORD

Dec. 1, 7:42 a.m.: An earlier version of this article referred to attorney Darryl Sragow. His first name is Darry.

————

Political science professor Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, agreed that a switch to even-numbered years would bring out more voters who are Latino, Asian and left-leaning in their political views. But Guerra, who headed the city commission that recommended a change in election dates, doesn’t buy predictions of additional taxes or greater influence by special interests.

Once city, state and national candidates are on the same ballot, the power of special interests in local elections — particularly unions and real estate developers — will be weakened, said Guerra, who is also a registered lobbyist at City Hall.

“There will be so many more candidates on the ballot, they’ll have to dilute their resources,” he said.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

Santa Monica Voter Turnout Hits Record Low

Santa Monica Voter Turnout Hits Record Low

Despite a number of competitive local contests on the November 4 ballot, voters in Santa Monica largely stayed home as turnout in the bayside city hit a record low 34.83 percent, according to figures released by the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office.

In an election that weighed the future of development and the possible fate of Santa Monica Airport, only 20,479 of the 58,803 registered Santa Monica voters went to the polls. That was a little more than half of the 38,177 voters (64.37 percent) who cast ballots in the 2010 midterm election.

Political experts interviewd by the Lookout blame the low turnout – reflected across the County, State and nation — on non-competitive races and a dearth of life-changing issues on the ballot.  Locally, some blame a disinterested electorate put off by  negative campaigns.

“I think there are a few reasons,” said Sharon Gilpin, who ran successful campaigns for an anti-airport measure and for Council member Kevin McKeown. “First, there are more than a few new citizens of the City that probably registered but probably are not tuned in to local issues.

“So taking the time to find their polling place, wait in line and then vote on candidates and issues isn’t worth their time,” Gilpin said. “Many of those new folks are ‘young’ and the youth just aren’t voting.

Their issues are not on the ballot.” Gilpin also blames local campaigns that frustrated voters with a weath of mailers that were negative, and in some cases confusing.

“There was this massive amount of information we expected people to digest in three weeks,” Gilpin said.  “If a voter was confused or frustrated they probably decided to skip voting. The council races were a bit negative this election, and negative campaigning depresses turnout.”

Turnout in LA County was equally low. Political observers noted that most of the candidates running for State and County seats belonged to the same party and generally agreed on the issues.

There was “little partisan competition,” said Dr. Fernando Guerra, a political science professor at Loyola Marymount University. “Without competition, people don’t feel that it’s worth coming out.

“Part of that is also a lack of ideological competition,” Guerra said  “There’s great consensus in California. California is a very Democratic state and a lot of the values that the Democratic Party espouses are actually the majority’s.”

Gilpin agrees. “There was absolutely no diversity of ideas in the contests…..all Democrats all the time,” she said. “Splitting issue hairs is fodder for political junkies, but most of the public is bored by that exercise. An exciting contest pits philosophy versus philosophy.”

In additionm, there were few pressing issues on the State ballot to mobilize voters, acording to political experts.

“It’s pretty astonishing,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State LA. “I think a lot of it was that there were races on issues that no one knew about or cared about.”

“You have to have a reason to really drive you out to the polls,” said Guerra. “You’ve got to explain to people that this is life-changing. There is not one race, not one initiative that is life-changing on the ballot.”

Sonenshein believes the lack of a competitive race for governor, in which Jerry Brown easily won a historic fourth term, contributed to the low turnout.

“Without a compelling race at the top of the ticket, a lot of people didn’t feel a need to vote,” Sonenshein said.

The low-turnout in the County reflected a nationwide trend. In the state of New York, 32.5 percent of its 10.9 million voters went to the polls on November 4.  In Detroit, turnout was 31 percent of the city’s 509,000 voters.

In all, 36.4 percent of registered voters in the United States voted this election, marking the smallest percentage participation since 1942, when less than 34 percent went to the polls.

Former mayor and city council candidate Michael Feinstein believes Santa Monica voters were put off by attack ads and candidates failing to present a good case for being elected.

“While there were certainly state and national political dynamics in play that depressed local turnout, I felt that the negative campaigning by most of the major City Council candidates turned off large segments of local electorate,” Feinstein said.

“Unfortunately, most got to hear only what the candidates were against, not what they were for,” said Feinstein, who finished in eighth place. “That means the election process mostly failed us, because we didn’t debate where we wanted to go as a community, only where we didn’t.”

Voter turnout has been generally declining in recent years, but the drop has been particularly striking for special elections and municipal races.

While voter turnout is generally lower in midterm elections, 2014 was especially low in Santa Monica compared to previous midterm elections.

In the 2010, Santa Monica’s 64.37 percent voter turnout (38,177 ballots out of 59,214 registered voters.) marked a high for mid-term elections during the decade.

In the 2006, voter turnout was 59.94 percent (34,440 ballots out of 57,455 registered voters).  In 2002, 54.6 percent of registered voters cast ballots (30,853 ballots out of 56,501 registered voters).

Presidential elections typically boost voter turnout, because they generate excitement and voters from both major parties feel there is more at stake.

In 2012, voter turnout in Santa Monica was 78.72 percent (47,945 out of 60,909); in 2008, voter turnout was 87.23 percent (50,912 out of 58,367); and in 2004 a record 83.62 percent of the voters turned out (49,627 out of 59,349).

The Valley’s long recount

The Valley’s long recount

One of the most fascinating elections of the year is still going on in the northeast San Fernando Valley’s 39th Assembly district where unknown, unsung Patty Lopez is holding a narrow lead over Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, who has been considered a future candidate for lower house speaker.

Dakota Smith, covering the race for the Los Angeles Daily News, wrote on election night “it was a stunning takedown of an entrenched politician.” Bocanegra had collected more than $600,000 compared to Lopez’ $10,000, reported Smith. Both are Democrats. The district includes Sylmar, Pacoima and the city of San Fernando.

By Friday night, with 6,000 or more ballots to be counted, Lopez held a 46-vote lead over her opponent. Brad Hertz, the lawyer representing her in the count proceedings, told me it may take days to officially complete the tally.

Nobody seems quite clear how Lopez did so well. The Daily News’ Smith noted that Lopez has been a representative for the North Valley Occupational Center and a Los Angeles Unified School District volunteer. “I’m just a humble little housewife, “ Lopez told Matt Thacker of the Post-Periodical web site. “I didn’t expect it. My main purpose was to raise my voice high enough to the government so they could hear our needs.” Professor Fernando Guerra, a well-known Loyola Marymount politics expert, “struggled to recall Lopez’ first name” after the election and called the election results ‘one of those freak things,’” Smith wrote.

Bocanegra’s team told Smith that Lopez was helped by Republicans.

What may be most significant is that the race was shaped to some extent by two new California election laws. One requires a runoff between the top two finishers in the primary. Lopez had 23.6 percent of the vote compared to Bocanegra’s 62.5 percent. The second law put the drawing of legislative district lines in the hands of an independent commission. That ended the old practice of districts that favored incumbents. We may be seeing more of these unexpected results in the future.

Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles Mayor Orders LAPD To Release Ezell Ford Autopsy (DETAILS)

Black Lives Matter: Los Angeles Mayor Orders LAPD To Release Ezell Ford Autopsy (DETAILS)

Three months after Ezell Ford was shot dead by Los Angeles police, Mayor Eric Garcetti has ordered the LAPD to release the autopsy performed on the 25-year-old mentally ill man.

Garcetti made the announcement during a surprise appearance at an LAPD news conference Thursday. He has given the department until the end of the year to lift a security hold placed on the autopsy that prevented the coroner’s office from publicly releasing its findings.

The order comes after months of protests and frustration among residents about the police department’s lack of transparency in the Aug. 11 shooting.

“I am ordering the results of this autopsy be released,” Garcetti said. “I think that is important for the family, that is important for the community, that is important for our city as well as our department.”

Fernando J. Guerra, a political science professor at Loyola Marymount University, said Garcetti’s actions suggested he had concerns beyond Ford’s shooting. The 25-year-old’s death occurred at a time of growing national criticism of police shootings, including demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., after police shot and killed an unarmed young black man there.

“He doesn’t want to be associated with the kind of mishandling of this issue we have seen in other cities,” Guerra said.

The department previously defended the hold on Ford’s autopsy, according to the LA Times.

A department spokesman said officials wanted to ensure that anyone who speaks with investigators is relaying information seen firsthand, not what was read in news reports or heard on the street.

Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday that the autopsy contained “significant evidence that could add tremendous credibility” to what witnesses may say.

“We want the truth,” Beck said. “We want witnesses’ statements to be as untainted as possible. That is why we have held the autopsy. But we have no intention of denying the family or this community access to that autopsy forever.”

Police also have not addressed why the unarmed man was approached by officers as he walked home. If you recall, police allege Ford wrestled with one of the officers, reaching for his gun. That’s when both officers opened fire. Witnesses, however, say there was no struggle.

The mayor’s order may seem like a proactive step in preventing a boiling over of tensions, seen most recently in Ferguson following the death of black teenager Michael Brown Jr., but many think it’s been too long.

Cliff Smith, a member of the nine-person South Central Neighborhood Council, said the mayor was giving the LAPD too long a deadline for the autopsy’s release. By the end of the year, more than four months will have passed since the shooting, he noted.

“Four and a half months after the fact?” Smith said. “It’s just pathetic.”

Sheila Kuehl captured female, liberal and gay vote in L.A. County Supervisor race

Sheila Kuehl captured female, liberal and gay vote in L.A. County Supervisor race

Los Angeles County Supervisor-elect Sheila Kuehl won a majority of the female vote, the liberal vote and the lesbian and gay vote in last week’s contest while challenger Bobby Shriver appealed more to Republicans, Catholics and younger voters, a Loyola Marymount University exit poll shows.

Among the exit poll respondents, Kuehl won 58 percent of the female vote and the Democratic vote, 62 percent of the liberal vote and 63 percent of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender vote in the Third Supervisorial District. The former state assemblywoman and state senator also won nearly 60 percent of the white vote and 53 percent of the Latino vote, according to the poll’s results released Tuesday evening.

Kuehl, who won the election with about 53 percent of the overall vote, was clearly viewed as the more liberal candidate in this heavily Democratic district and benefited from having the name recognition and extensive experience, said Brianne Gilbert, associate director of LMU’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, which conducted the exit poll.

“Democrats, liberals, women, gay voters — who basically have been pillars of (Kuehl’s) support all along — and Latinos carried her to victory,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State Los Angeles. “This was her base. She appealed strongly to it.”

Shriver, who positioned himself as the slightly less liberal and more pro-business candidate, earned nearly 66 percent of the Republican vote, 61 percent of the conservative vote and 54 percent of the moderate vote. The former Santa Monica mayor also earned 72 percent of the African-American vote and 60 percent of the Asian vote, according to the exit poll.

The third district, which spans more than 400 square miles in the San Fernando Valley and through the Westside, has nearly three times as many registered Democrats as it has registered Republicans, according to Political Data Inc.

“(Shriver) came in with a tougher road to climb given the nature of the electorate in the district, especially in an off-year election, but ran a very energetic campaign,” Sonenshein said, adding that he kept the race competitive by courting communities with fewer ties or familiarity with Kuehl, including Republicans and younger voters, as well as “plenty of Democrats.”

While Kuehl’s campaign was largely about reaching out to what one might call “old friends” since she had a greater depth of support and familiarity in the district, Shriver’s campaign seemed to be about making new friends, Sonenshein said.

Cal State Northridge political scientist Tom Hogen-Esch said he was struck by the fact that women supported Kuehl by about 16 percentage points more than men did. He called that a “huge gap” for an election between two Democrats with similar positions. Men were evenly split between the candidates.

“If you’re looking for one reason why Sheila Kuehl won, it’s the gender gap,” Hogen-Esch said, adding that women tend to be attracted to female candidates, particularly ahead of an election season in which there is be a strong likelihood of a female nominee for president.

However, women are more likely to register as Democrats and be liberal — two groups in which Kuehl fared quite well and which might partly explain that gap, Sonenshein said.

Kuehl might have earned a majority of the Latino vote partly because of her strong ties with labor, in which the community is largely represented, Hogen-Esch said. African-Americans may have heavily supported Shriver, the nephew of John F. Kennedy, as a result of his family’s ties to the civil rights movement, he said.

The former U.S. president also placed a number of African-Americans in high positions in the White House, something that may have also influenced the community’s support for his nephew, Gilbert said.

Kuehl, who is openly lesbian and active on the issue of gay rights, also clearly resonated with the LGBT community, which constituted 10 percent of the exit poll respondents in the district.

“She’s not shy about her orientation,” Gilbert said. “If you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, and all other things are equal, people have a tendency to vote more similarly to themselves. That may have been a major influencing factor.”

The poll, which has a margin of error of about 4 percent, surveyed more than 560 voters in 17 polling places in randomly selected precincts within the Third Supervisorial District, Gilbert said. More than 241,500 people voted for a candidate in this race, according to the County of Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder.

San Bernardino sees more votes amid historically low turnout

San Bernardino sees more votes amid historically low turnout

Record-low voter turnout throughout the state, including San Bernardino County, had an anomaly Tuesday — significant turnout growth in the city of San Bernardino.

Out of about 77,000 registered voters, the vote on whether to change the city charter’s drew nearly 19,000 votes (all of this election’s turnout numbers will increase slightly as another 15,365 votes are counted countywide, according to the Registrar of Voters). That’s more than 50 percent more than voted in what elections officials thought was a “compelling” but disappointingly ill-attended February election that chose Carey Davis as mayor.

Measure Q still received votes from less than one in every four registered voters — a group that already consists of only a fraction of the city’s 210,000 residents.

“It’s still nothing to be proud of,” City Clerk Gigi Hanna said. “Part of that might be people not feeling connected — but the way to be heard is to vote. It’s so sad that people let this issue, however you feel about it, be decided by such a small number of people.”

But the increase — a large one — comes amid almost universal drops in turnout. The national turnout isexpected to be the lowest in a midterm since World War II. California expects to fall below 2002’s record low. San Bernardino County’s 33 percent is almost certain to be a record low, according to Registrar of Voters Michael Scarpello.

So what’s different about this city, this year?

For one thing, people come out to vote when state and federal offices are on the line, said Fernando J. Guerra, director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University and assistant to the president for civic enagement.

“You should have elections where the voters are,” Guerra said. “If people are voting in November of even years, that’s when you should have the elections.”

Guerra was head of a commission charged with finding ways to boost voter turnout in Los Angeles, whose first recommendation this year was to change the LA city charter to consolidate its elections with the state’s.

“Absolutely, San Bernardino should change to November of even-number years, or if that’s not possible November of odd-number years, with a plurality or ranked choice system,” Guerra said. “A lot of these cities are set up so they have purposely low turnout, beginning with (opposition to) Upton Sinclair and an attempt to prevent large social movements from capturing elections in the 1910s and 1920s.”

San Bernardino’s charter provision setting election timing was last changed in a 1992 election, according to the charter itself. Beginning in 1995, it says, a primary will be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years and a general election on the first Tuesday in February of the following year.

The last time a local San Bernardino issue was on the ballot at the same time as state and federal races was November 2010, when another proposed charter change was rejected (state law restricts charter changes to public votes in November of even-number years). More than 30,000 residents voted on an attempt to make the city attorney, city clerk and city treasurer appointed rather than elected.

That’s more than double the citywide election prior to that, in November 2009, when Pat Morris got a majority of 14,930 votes cast and so avoided the February run-off.

There have been attempts to change the city’s election timing, most recently when Hanna looked into the issue for the charter review committee this spring. Hanna said at the time that the issue needed more study.

Some studies do show local elections held in even-numbered years tend to have higher participation — even accounting for people who go to the polls to vote for races at the top of the ballot, such as president, but who don’t continue to the bottom of the ballot where local races are listed.

But the registrar of voters’ “initial take” was that the consolidation wouldn’t save a large amount of money, and the county Board of Supervisors might refuse to allow it, as they recently did when a special district requested to consolidate its election, according to Hanna.

“Even-year runoffs are something that could help, and something I’ve talked about before,” Hanna said Friday.

Scarpello said Wednesday that more cities changing to even-year elections means a longer ballot, with local races at the bottom.

“When you have a three-page ballot instead of a two-page ballot, participation drops off,” he said. “Also, it takes longer to count ballots. … It’s not something we encourage, but they can look into it.”

A minority report by three members of the commission Guerra headed gives five arguments against switching to even-year elections, including drop-off as people get to the bottom of the ballot and more difficulty — and expense — having voters consider local issues without being crowded out by the din of other campaigns.

San Bernardino’s charter review committee is scheduled to begin a second round of study Nov. 18.

LMU Center’s Exit Poll Accurately Predicts Results of Three Elections

LMU Center’s Exit Poll Accurately Predicts Results of Three Elections

The Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University accurately predicted the outcomes of three contested races on Election Day.

Data from the Center’s exit poll, administered by LMU students at polling places throughout Los Angeles County, predicted victory for Ted Lieu in the 33rd Congressional District race and for Ben Allen in the 26th state Senate district just a few minutes after the polls closed. Official results from later in the night showed both candidates won.

In the closely watched Third Supervisorial District race, Prof. Fernando Guerra, director of the Center, declared the race “too close to call” after the polls closed, but noted that Sheila Kuehl had a slight edge in the exit poll, coming in at 51 or 52 percent of the vote. The final tally showed Kuehl the victor with 52.8 percent in her favor.

“Our goal is to be always improving our exit poll to make it as accurate as possible, and we believe we’re continuing to do that,” Guerra said. “This year, we ran into a few challenges when we took the exit poll outside of the city of Los Angeles for the first time, but we were still able to predict the results of these key races.”

Additional data from the exit poll is still being analyzed, but will be available on Thursday, two days after the election. That includes information broken down by demographics, and voter decisions on ballot measures at the state and county level.

About Loyola Marymount University
Located between the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is a comprehensive university offering 60 major programs, 36 master’s degrees and a doctoral degree in education from four colleges, two schools and Loyola Law School. Founded in 1911, LMU is ranked third in “Best Regional Universities/West” by U.S. News & World Report. LMU is the largest Jesuit Catholic university for undergraduates on the West Coast with more than 5,900 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students. For more LMU news and events, please visit www.lmu.edu/news.