OWN VOICE. By Pacifica resident, Vicki Sundstrom.
The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA), signed into law in 2002, allowed voters to
elect candidates for representation from their districts, enabling under-represented
groups to seek representation from within their districts. The law explicitly protects the
rights of the electorate to elect candidates, prohibiting any activity that may influence
the outcome of an election. Consequently, it’s been both interesting and alarming to
see the first Pacifica District 2 election unfold. A district where 64% of the constituents
Pacifica’s District 2 is unique in every way possible. It has the widest socio economic diversity with residents living in RVs, mobile homes and apartments, to hilltop luxury homes. Traffic has grown by at least 40% in the last 10 years, the highest of any district in Pacifica. Residents are seeing crime that other parts of Pacifica do not experience.
In the 25 years that I’ve lived off the gerrymandered District 2 boundary, I haven’t seen any of the sitting council members act in the interest of the two northern districts. All the homes and apartments falling into the ocean are in District 2, yet council claims the “vulnerable” coastline is in District 3 (which happens to be the affluent one). Additionally, District 2 neighbors have reported traffic speeding issues (with documented photos and videos) for years, with no meaningful results from city council members & police. Yet one complaint at a council meeting by constituents of district 4 and police are diligently monitoring speeding along that district’s thoroughfares. It’s fair to say that the sitting council members don’t know what the district needs, nor how to address the issues, let alone be in a position to endorse representation for the district.
Despite the protections of CVRA the (all white) sitting Pacifica Council Members (none in district 2) are taking an active role in influencing the outcome of the election in District 2. These council members, as council members not civilians, have endorsed and campaigned for their preferred district 2 candidate. A representative at the California Fair Political Practices Commission indicated that in this case, the council members could not use their elected positions to endorse a candidate.
As if the endorsement and campaigning efforts to influence the outcome of the election in district 2 were not bad enough, it became apparent at the recent Pacifica Democrats Forum that the seated council member/s had met with their preferred candidate. Based on what was shared at the televised event, not only did the candidate have council member endorsements, they had already had “planning sessions to solve the City’s housing problems”. Sitting council member/s meeting with a civilian to discuss city matters? A Brown Act violation? Seems to be.
There is a lot to unpack around the District 2 election (the will of the people, diversity and inclusions, equal representation). The message is clear to anyone voting in Pacifica that the Pacifica City Council has their preferences regardless of what the people want or need. At any cost. In 2022, while every other region in the United States is diligently working on equality and equity of under represented groups, Pacifica City Council continued to marginalize the interests, safety and voices of their minority constituents. Let that sink in.