The Voting System at SANDAG 🗳️

The Voting System at SANDAG 🗳️

In 2017, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 805. While there wasn't much publicity at the time, the measure was proposed by state legislatures in Sacramento, and now the power is being abused at SANDAG.

The weighted vote gives more power to the more populated cities. For example, the City of San Diego and Chula Vista are given about 50% of the vote. This is similar to Congress. However, for a bill to pass federally, it must also pass through the Senate, which is equally divided by each state. This balance ensures meaningful input from both large and small states.

This is how the voting system used to work at SANDAG. In order for legislation to pass, it would have to be approved by a tally vote (each representative has 1 vote) and a weighted vote (each jurisdiction gets more or fewer votes based on population). With AB 805, the tally vote can simply be overridden by the weighted vote, and a couple of the nineteen jurisdictions can rule over the region.

One of the most frustrating parts of AB 805 is that most of this region doesn't get a meaningful vote to determine outcomes worth billions of dollars that dramatically affect their lives. Chula Vista and the City of San Diego drive where all the transportation should go throughout San Diego County and who will pay for it.

Here's an example of how the weighted vote has been used: In the first vote, a majority of SANDAG Board jurisdictions (10 of 19) approved Del Mar Councilmember Terry Gaasterland as second vice chair for their board's executive leadership. 

However, a weighted vote was called for following the vote, and instead Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner was voted second vice chair, with only a few cities voting in favor.

The old voting system at SANDAG encouraged both parties to compromise, for the good of the region, in order to pass legislation through both a tally vote and a weighted vote. The new system disenfranchises smaller cities, most of which are in North County, and there is a feeling of taxation without representation.

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