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District Elections

On February 28, 2018, after a total of six public hearings, the City Council adopted an ordinance establishing four council districts in the City of Martinez.  Please see below for the background on this process. To view the adopted map of the Council districts, please click on the "Adopted Districts Map" icon.  To view the proposed district maps that were considered, but not selected, please click on the "Proposed Districts Map" icon below under Public Hearings.

Click here to view the interactive map where you can enter your address to find your district.

The City of Martinez currently uses an at-large election system in which all voters in the City have the opportunity to vote for candidates for all seats on the City Council. At the City Council Meeting on December 6, 2017, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 135-17 declaring its intent to transition to district-based elections in response to Mr. Shenkman’s letter.

On October 24, 2017, the City received a certified letter from Attorney Kevin Shenkman of Shenkman & Hughes, which alleged that voting within the City is racially polarized, resulting in minority vote dilution and that the City’s at-large elections violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (“CVRA”). Specifically, the letter alleged that, “Martinez’s at-large system dilutes the ability of Latinos (a ‘protected class’) to elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of Martinez’s City Council elections.”  In order to avoid extremely costly litigation and even the possibility of liability under the CVRA—notwithstanding the lack of merit of these allegations—the City switched to a district-based voting system, in which the City is divided into districts and only the voters in each particular district decide the candidate from that district who will represent that district on the City Council.

Public Hearings

Public comments on the transition to district-based elections and the proposed district map(s) are very important and all residents within the City were encouraged to participate in these hearings.  Several public hearings were held in the Council Chambers at City Hall on the dates noted below at 7:00 p.m.

Public Hearing No. 1

December 20, 2017

Public Hearing No. 2

January 10, 2018

*First Date of Publication of Draft Map(s) And any Maps Provided by the Public

January 17, 2018

Public Hearing No. 3

January 24, 2018

Public Hearing No. 4

February 7, 2018

Public Hearing No. 5 (Introduction of Ordinance)

February 21, 2018

Public Hearing No. 6 (Adoption of Ordinance) February 28, 2018

*Please note there was NOT a public hearing on January 17, 2018.

Everyone was encouraged to attend these meetings to learn  about the process and provide their input and comments to the City Council.  To view the proposed district maps that were considered, but not selected, please click on the "Proposed Districts Map" icon.

Impacts on California Cities

A number of cities in California have faced CVRA demands and lawsuits since it was effective in 2003.  The CVRA, in an attempt to prevent disenfranchisement of protected classes of persons, establishes a cause of action for minority voters seeking to force cities to convert from at-large to by-district elections if certain conditions are met. Numerous public agencies in California have been sued under the CVRA. Plaintiffs challenging at-large elections in the City of Palmdale prevailed in the only case to be tried to judgment under the Act so far, but several cities, school districts and hospital districts have settled with challengers, either prior to or in the midst of litigation brought pursuant to the CVRA. 

Cities and other public entities have a statutory obligation to reimburse successful challengers for their attorneys’ fees pursuant to the CVRA, including if districts are voluntarily adopted in response to litigation in some cases. Due to the significant costs of defending against these lawsuits, the vast majority of cities have therefore voted to voluntarily transition to district-based elections.

Examples of settlements:

    - Anaheim $1.1 million
    - Modesto - $3 million plaintiff's attorney fees and $1.7 million for its own lawyers
    - Palmdale - $4.7 million
    - Santa Barbara - $600,000
    - Tulare Hospital - $500,000
    - Whittier - $1 million

Switched (or in the process of switching) as a result of CVRA challenges, at least:

    - 160 school districts
    - 27 community college districts
    - 8 water and other special districts

Staff Contact

Deputy City Clerk                                            (925) 372-3512

District Elections - Related Documents

 March 21, 2018 - Adopt the Resolution Approving an Allocation of Funds 
 March 21, 2018 - CVRA Reimbursement Request 
 March 21, 2018 - Letter from Shenkman & Hughes regarding Reimbursement 
 March 21, 2018 - Letter of Release 
 March 21, 2018 - Letter of Response to Shenkman & Hughes 
 March 21, 2018 - Shenkman & Hughes Billing Entries 
 All Public Comment 
 December 20, 2017 - Council Meeting Minutes 
 February 12, 2018 - Orange Map Demographics V4 
 February 21, 2018 - Council Meeting Minutes 
 February 28, 2018 - Ordinance Adopting Council Districts 
 February 28, 2018 - Staff Report Final Adoption of an Ordinance 
 February 7, 2018 - Council Meeting Minutes 
 January 10, 2018 - Council Meeting Minutes 
 January 24, 2018 - Council Meeting Minutes 
 February 21, 2018 - Public Correspondence 
 February 21, 2018 - Staff Report Fifth Public Hearing Introduction of an Ordinance Establishing District-Based Elections 
 February 7, 2018 - Fourth Public Hearing Minutes 
 February 7, 2018 - Public Correspondence 
 February 7, 2018 - Staff Report Fourth Public Hearing to Introduce an Ordinance Establishing District-Based Elections 
 January 24, 2018 - Third Public Hearing Minutes 
 February 12, 2018 - Orange Map Version 4 (Adopted Map) 
 January 24, 2018 - Public Correspondence 
 January 24, 2018 - Staff Report Third Public Hearing to Receive Public Comment on Composition of Districts 
 January 24, 2018 Changing Electoral System to Adopt District Elections by Chris Skinnell 
 January 24, 2018 National Demograhics Corporation City of Martinez 2018 Districting by Doug Johnson 
 January 10, 2018 - Second Public Hearing Minutes 
 January 10, 2018 - Second Public Hearing Presentation by Sean Welch, Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni, LLP 
 January 10, 2018 - Staff Report Second Public Hearing to Receive Public Comment on Composition of Districts 
 December 20, 2017 - First Public Hearing Minutes 
 December 20, 2017 - First Public Hearing Presentation by Sean Welch, Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni, LLP Legal & Policy Criteria Governing Establishment of Districts
 December 20, 2017 - Staff Report First Public Hearing to Receive Public Comment on Composition of Districts 
 December 6, 2017 - Resolution 135-17 
 December 6, 2017 - Staff Report - Adopt Resolution of Intent 
 October 24, 2017 - Certified Letter