Measure C would reduce council districts in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- There are no campaign lawn signs. There isn't even a formal committee supporting it. However, opposition is mounting for Measure C.

The proposal would reduce the number of council districts in the City of Santa Clara from six to three.

That proposal has sparked pushback from a growing coalition of minority community groups in the city of 127,000 that say fewer districts would disenfranchise residents from electing diverse candidates.

"State law is very clear when jurisdictions are going from at-large election to district elections," said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla at a news conference hosted Thursday by the Council on American Islamic Relations office in Santa Clara. "It's for the purpose of allowing historically disenfranchised communities to have their proper say in who their representatives are."

Santa Clara's population is about 50 percent minority. When it held at-large elections, the council was all white. When a court two years ago ordered the city to create six districts, its first non-white council member was elected -- Raj Chahal.

Measure C grew out of a citizens committee.

"Measure C was written by a Charter review committee, a diverse group of Santa Clarans for Santa Clarans," Mayor Lisa Gillmor told ABC7 New.

Council member Teresa O'Neill said the measure could result in more diversity.

"They had experts that came in and talked to them, and one of the demographers said there's a possibility that you might actually get more diversity by having the three districts with multiple members in each," said O'Neill.

The city council member is a Measure C supporter.

The city is appealing the court order mandating six districts while a majority of council members urges passage of Measure C. City leaders have also complained that the 49ers organization has contributed about $317,000 to the No on C campaign committee.

"Measure C threatens to disenfranchise minority communities and strip them of equal representation in our local government, while simultaneously ignoring a court order," Team Vice President of Public Affairs Rahul Chandhok said.

Voters will decide at the ballot box.
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