A sheet of voter stickers. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
A sheet of voter stickers. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

Los Angeles voters will be asked Tuesday whether city and school board officials should be elected in the same year as the president and the governor, instead of during local elections in off-years.

Charter Amendment 1 and Charter Amendment 2 call for holding city and school board elections in even-numbered years, instead of odd-numbered years.

Passage of the measures would mean that races for the Los Angeles Unified School District board, City Council, mayor, city attorney and controller would be on the same ballot as races for the governor and president’s seats.

Charter Amendment 1 calls for switching dates for the mayoral, City Council, city attorney and controller elections. Charter Amendment 2 calls for moving the dates for Los Angeles Unified School District board elections.

Backers of the election year switch say voter turnout has proven to be stubbornly low in the odd-year city elections — with less than 21 percent of registered voters going to the polls in the 2013 primaries.

By combining local races with with higher-profile elections, more voters would come out to vote for city and school board officials, say supporters, who include Council President Herb Wesson, electoral reform group California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.

But critics of the measures, including a group called Save Our Elections, say lumping city elections onto the end of a lengthy ballot actually lowers engagement with local issues.

In a crowded election, city and school board candidates and local ballot measures would need to spend more money to gain voters’ attention, giving deep-pocketed interests — such as billboard companies, developers and others — an advantage over smaller groups with more modest budgets, opponents say.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks opposes the measures, as do former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina and Koreatown activist Grace Yoo —  both of whom are running for City Council.

The measures will have a direct affect on candidates running for City Council seats on today’s ballot, including Wesson, who is running for re- election.

The candidates elected to City Council in this election would receive 5 1/2 year terms, instead of the usual four years.

The one-time lengthening of the terms was proposed so the next election for the local seats would take place in the even-numbered year of 2020, instead of 2019.

The mayoral, city attorney and controller and eight other City Council seats will also become 5 1/2-year terms for those elected in 2017, so the next election after that could occur in the year 2022. After that terms would go back to four years.

—City News Service

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