May 19 2014

OPINION: Hold Council and School Board Elections in November

Following is a letter to the City Council recommending changing Piedmont’s election dates.
       I agree with Mr. Keating in urging both the City Council and School Board to support a Charter amendment to move the council and school board elections to November of the even years. As mentioned in the staff report, this will save more than $70,000 in public funds compared to the February special election where turnout is typically much lower than November. The February 2014 turnout (even with contested Piedmont campaigns) was just 36% and while the Clerk could confirm this figure, I expect that the typical November turnout is significantly higher than 60%.
         Please see the attached resolution and impartial analysis from 2008’s Measure C which moved the election to February in the first place. As noted in the highlighted portion, this was done to reduce costs and increase turnout, both of which would be accomplished by canceling the future February elections and consolidating with November.

              The “disadvantages” to a November election listed in the staff report are honestly quite weak from a public policy perspective (Is it really worth $70K+ a year to appear on the front side of the ballot card? Voters are smart enough to turn their ballots over). None of these factors outweigh the combination of lower cost and higher turnout that would come with a November election.

         Thank you,
                     Barry Barnes, Piedmont Resident
Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

2 Responses to “OPINION: Hold Council and School Board Elections in November”

  1. I think the more important consideration is to move the local elections to any pre-existing election date, whether the November regular election or the June primary. The cost of holding February elections could be avoided. Furthermore, the turnout would be better. The frequently cited downside to combined elections is that the public’s attention to the local issues or candidates would be buried in the blitz of advertising for statewide or national election issues. Piedmont is so attuned to local concerns that any dilution of public attention should be off-set by greater participation.

  2. I support this sensible change – turnout and money are both important. There is some risk that our local issues will get lost in the bigger swirl of fall politics, but my impression is that many people also engage more in the run-up to general elections so that we’ll get more attention, not less.

    Jon Elliott

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