The Coastside County Water District is the latest elected board in San Mateo County to face potential legal action if it did not change from an at-large to a districted election system. As a result, at a special meeting on Nov. 25, the CCWD board of directors voted to move to establish a zone-based election system.
“Moving to zone elections is the way of the future for all public agencies in California with elected boards,” General Manager Mary Rogren said.
Southern California attorney Kevin Shenkman spawned the change by sending a letter to the district citing the California Voter Rights Act. He argued that the voting rights activists have been requesting the change for years for concerns of “vote dilution” that impacts a minority group’s ability to elect candidates or influence the outcome of the elections.
Shenkman sent a near identical letter to the city of Half Moon Bay, the San Mateo County Harbor District and the Cabrillo Unified School District.
CCWD opted to make the change to zoned elections without a court fight, and is now taking steps to include ratepayers in the process of establishing the map.
Rogren estimates the process of districting will cost CCWD between $50,000 to $75,000.
“I personally feel it is important to do everything we can so people are represented,” board president Ken Coverdell said.
He cautioned that if no one decides to run in a certain zone in the future, it can fall onto the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to appoint a person to fill the seat.
“We are in a small area and it is hard to get people interested in running,” Rogren said.
Coverdell was hopeful CCWD could use the same map adopted by Half Moon Bay City Council in 2018, however the water district’s boundaries are slightly different.
He said if people decide to run for a position on the board they should be informed and come ready to serve.
“You want people that are informed and are paying attention,” Coverdell said. “… If there are groups that feel underrepresented I hope
they get representation, are serious and don’t just sit on the board.”