City to Move to State Election Cycle, 50 Percent + 1 Majority Format

Vote means current officeholders will remain in office an additional 19 months to align with state, national cycles

Published : Tuesday, January 9, 2018 | 6:21 AM

City Ballot

[Editor's Note: This article originally incorrectly stated that Councilmember Margaret McAustin argued in favor of an option which would allow plurality winners of primary elections to claim victory. In fact, McAustin argued in favor of asking the electorate to decide upon which voting victory format it prefers, however she was unable to secure a second for her motion.]

More than two years after the passing of the California Voter Participation Rights Act, the Pasadena City Council Monday voted 7-1 to continue to utilize the current Primary and General election format for the offices of Mayor and members of the City Council, requiring the successful candidate for any office to receive a 50 percent +1 majority to be elected in either the primary or general elections held in even years.

The move will necessitate a one-time 19-month extension of the current terms of the Mayor and members of the City Council, in order to move the City’s next election to statewide election dates.

The Council also directed staff to prepare appropriate Charter Amendment language consistent with the City Council’s determination related to the future format of City elections, with the Charter Amendment measure to be submitted for voter approval at the June 5, 2018 Statewide Primary Election.

The California Voter Participation Rights Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 1, 2015, directed all California cities to shift any “off-cycle” local elections to statewide election dates, if local election participation rates result in low voter turnout elections.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra then opined in July that charter cities like Pasadena must also participate in the move to statewide elections. As discussed in an informal”straw poll” taken by the Council in October, the vote Monday continued to formalize the City’s intention to comply with the Act.

Councilmember Margaret McAustin, who argued in favor of an option which would allow the voters to choose which option they prefer during the Charter Amendment measure vote,  and attempted to introduce a motion to that effect, was unable to secure a second, before the first option was voted on and passed.