The Long Beach City Council adopted a resolution at its July 9 meeting to conduct a special municipal election for the 1st District seat on November 5. The 5-0 vote established an official vacancy of the 1st District seat, relinquished by former Councilmember Lena Gonzalez after her election to the state senate in June.
Allison Bunma, City of Long Beach assistant city clerk, said candidates may now officially file their paperwork with the clerk’s office. The nomination period for candidates is from July 15 to August 9.
The council’s adoption of the resolution also included a request to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to run the special election in November. “The county would be printing out all the ballots, sending out the ballots, doing the canvasing and tallying the votes,” Bunma said. “The county would be taking care of all of that.”
The city has solicited the county’s help in elections in recent years, such as in November 2018, when residents voted on various charter amendments. Bunma said there is no specific protocol as to when and why the city would request the county’s assistance in elections but did note that it usually occurs when election dates align with the county’s.
In the case of this upcoming election, city officials required the county’s involvement for “logistical” reasons. “We’re asking the county to handle our election for us, because . . . [we’re being moved] to a new building [and] we don’t have a location to host this,” said Bunma, referencing the new City Hall building opening this month. “It was just bad timing.”
After November’s special election, the county’s involvement will be mandated by Senate Bill 415 (SB 415). SB 415, which went into effect January 1, 2016, required “any state, county, municipal, district and school district election held on a statewide election date to be consolidated with a statewide election,” the bill reads. Local jurisdictions had until January 1, 2018, to adopt a plan to comply with SB 415, Bunma said.
To meet SB 415’s requirements, the Long Beach City Council adopted a resolution on October 10, 2017, to change the city’s primary and general election dates to correlate with the statewide general election dates in March and November of even-numbered years, beginning in 2020.
The cost estimate for the special November election is $260,000 and will be financed by the city’s General Fund, Bunma said. The estimated cost is based on the number of registered voters in the 1st District.
Bunma said city officials are seeking to quickly educate 1st District residents about November’s special election, since it’s only four months away and a short time before the municipal election in March, when the fate of the city’s even-numbered districts will be decided.
Bunma noted that a lower voter turnout in November is anticipated, since it only encompasses one council district. “For a small election like this, that’s why we try to go out and educate that district,” she said. “We encourage all the residents to come and vote by sending out flyers [and] advertising on bus shelters within that area. . . . It’s about letting our community know about the election.”