Chico’s City Council is expected to adopt district elections tomorrow.
Seven separate districts would replace the current system, where the city council is chosen by voters citywide.
The change was more-or-less forced on Chico by demand letters from out of town law firms. The letters claimed at-large elections discriminate against voters and thus violate a recent state law.
In a city fairly evenly divided between conservatives and liberals, the prospect of change has kicked off a jockeying for advantage and accusations of impropriety.
Liberals regained a narrow majority on the council in the November 2018 election.
The consultant hired to create district maps has done work for Democratic campaigns, meanwhile one of the demand letters forcing the changes originated from a Republican political consultant.
Conservatives have questioned the legitimacy on social media, complaining that proposed district boundaries don’t force sitting council members to compete for the same district.
The other main flashpoint concerns which districts will select a council member this year, and which in 2022. The seven members serve four year terms, but their elections are staggered. Four are chosen during presidential election years, and the three others two years later.
The council will also take up a proposal substantially altering the process and price of reserving space in city parks, and discuss an ordinance aimed at a bicycle rickshaw driver and his amplified sound system.
The meeting will be held in council chambers at Fourth and Main Streets. It gets underway at 6pm on Tuesday.