City Council approves Glendale Unified's ballot request

The City Council approved a request made by Glendale Unified school officials to ask for voters’ input this April to allow Glendale Unified officials to conduct elections as they wish, ultimately letting them to switch from a current “at-large” voting system to one based on district.

Last December, the school district, city and Glendale Community College received an email from an attorney who mentioned his intent to sue all three entities for violating the California Voting Rights Act.

In a move to avoid the potential for costly litigation, college officials took their first step to adopt a district-based voting system, followed by school board members and City Council members.

But unlike Glendale Community College, the Glendale school district is attached to the city’s charter, which states that elections must follow an at-large system.

So, Glendale Unified officials voted on a resolution earlier this month to ask the City Council to approve a ballot measure asking voters in April to amend the city charter, giving the school district freedom to transition to a new voting system.

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said the school board will discuss the new voting system again after the election in April.

Glendale Community College officials, meanwhile, are waiting for the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office to grant them the ability to switch from an “at-large” system to a district-based structure.

As college officials move forward, they must still decide how to plot the trustee boundaries and whether they should establish five voting districts or seven.

Earlier this week, the City Council voted to put measure on the April ballot asking voters if the city should switch from an at-large voting system to individual districts.

Council members agreed 4-0 to pursue a plan that lets local voters first decide on whether to make the switch. If voters approve moving ahead, city officials would gather public input, draw up draft districts and, finally, bring the proposed districting plan back to voters.

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