Brawley, Others, To Mull Over Election Changes By January 2018

Artist Josue Pimental (center) presented a line drawing of the old City Hall to Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman (left). Debi Smerdon was also on hand at Tuesday’s meeting.

Brawley, Others, To Mull Over Election Changes By January 2018

By Chris Furguson

Artist Josue Pimental (center) presented a line drawing of the old City Hall to Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman (left). Debi Smerdon was also on hand at Tuesday’s meeting.

A recently passed California Senate Bill, SB 415, which was designed to encourage extra participation in local elections, will require every municipality (cities and counties) to hold their elections on even numbered years. Those cities will need to have their plans ready by January 2018 according to the legislation.

The bill was originally authored by State Senator Ben Hueso, who represents Imperial County and border area of San Diego County. The original idea is that voter participation is up to 25% higher during even numbered years, when Presidential and congressional elections take place, and that local elections needed that same boost.

As Brawley holds their elections on odd-numbered years, like a number of cities around the state, a decision will need to be reached on whether or not to add or subtract a year on each council member’s terms.

City Attorney William Smerdon, in his remarks on Tuesday evening, suggested that the council would need to add a year to all of their terms in order to best comply with the law.

Smerdon also added that he is coordinating with Brawley’s two school districts and the county on the issue, among others.

As this was an informational item, the council did not act upon the news. However, the city plans to issue a public notice to residents about the topic and make a final decision in the coming months.

“We don’t want the public to think we’re delaying a vote,” said Mayor Sam Couchman.

In Other Brawley News…

• A vacant lot on C Street between Best and Eastern Avenues is one step closer to seeing construction as the council approved a zone change for the property owners.
The property, owned by Chelsea Investments and Developments, will become a low-income apartment complex with a small community center as financing becomes available.

• The council were also introduced to a pair of newly hired police officers, presented a line drawing of Main Street by an art student and issued a proclamation for National Marriage Week.