By Galen Patterson
Arcadia’s first district-based election is just around the corner, but only 12,370 Arcadians are eligible to vote.
Previously, Arcadia handled local elections through a city-wide competition in which all Arcadians of legal voting age were welcomed to vote. However, under new law, only Arcadians living within one of the five districts may vote only for the representatives running in their district.
The change came about after the Southwest Voter Education Registration Project sent a letter threatening legal action for non-compliance with the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) in June of 2017.
The letter suggests that Arcadia’s racial demographics are not adequately represented on City Council, and that voting in districts could potentially give pockets of demographics power to elect more racially diverse politicians.
On July 21st, the city changed its election method and began to prepare for district-based elections shortly thereafter by hiring an expert demographic firm to help analyze Arcadia’s population and developing several map choices.
In early August, 2017, two public meetings were held to allow citizens to voice their opinions on drawing the district boundaries and by October a map was selected and the city was divided into five districts.
Originally, three seats on City Council were up for election, but Mayor Pro Tempore Sho Tay ran unopposed and was appointed to the office. Mayor Pro Temp. Tay’s recent appointment for another term ruffled feathers in the community and significantly added to the number of Arcadians whose opinions were silenced in the upcoming elections.
What’s left are two contested seats on City Council, with incumbent candidate Tom Beck, a former Mayor and veteran member of City Council squaring off against Bob Harbicht, also a former Mayor of both Arcadia and Duarte, who left City Council due to term limits.
Beck and Harbicht’s 2nd district voters live in the Santa Anita Racetrack area, extending South to Huntington Dr., West to Michillinda Ave., North to Orange Grove Ave. and East to Santa Anita Ave.
The second open seat on City Council is currently held by Roger Chandler, a three-term former Mayor of Arcadia and career law man. Chandler is running against Jolly Wu, a self-funded pharmacist, and 30-year school district employee Joyce Platt.
Chandler, Wu and Platt are running to secure the 5th district, which is situated in southeast Arcadia, reaching North to Genoa St., extending East from Santa Anita Ave. and includes the appendage section of Arcadia, bordering North El Monte and ending at the San Gabriel River.
Currently, District 2 has 6,029 registered voters while District 5 has 6,341. 15,982 registered Arcadian voters will not have a chance to vote in the election. Local businessman George Fasching has chosen to display this fact from his sign overlooking Santa Anita Ave.
“District voting has no place in the City of Arcadia,” says Fasching. One of Fasching’s main concerns is limiting candidates based off of where they live, rather than other qualifications. “That eliminates a lot of good prospects,” says Fasching.