- Published on Tuesday, 10 April 2007 20:00
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier
A March 27 Los Altos City Council decision to change the council election date to even-numbered years makes sense from both fiscal and voter participation perspectives.
A 2002 federal mandate required ballots printed in four additional languages, driving ballot printing and setup costs substantially higher. The 2007 election could cost the city as much as $172,000. Consolidating with statewide elections and other jurisdictions beginning in 2008 could save the city as much as $133,000.
If the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors signs off on it, this year's election would be postponed for a year, giving Mayor Curtis Cole and councilmen David Casas and Ron Packard another year on the council.
Those against such a change argue that voters pay closer attention and are less distracted by other general election issues during elections in odd-numbered years. In addition, some have noted that giving council members an extra year in office is a blow to democracy and the will of the people.
If we're talking about a run for the White House, this would surely be the case. But at the Los Altos council level, even getting enough candidates to run sometimes can be challenging. An added disincentive is the increase in election costs that might take would-be candidates out of the picture. One could argue an election in 2008 would encourage more candidate participation because voters would be paying attention.
Some would argue the opposite, but the numbers clearly show fewer Los Altos voters turn out in odd-number years, even with more of a spotlight on council races. The 2001 council race, for instance, drew less than 30 percent of eligible voters.
Changing the city's election date is a good idea. We only hope the city puts the savings to good use.