Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wither Ranked Choice Voting?

The Citizen

SAN LEANDROCouncilwoman Diana Souza's vote against the implementation of Ranked Choiuce Voting could cost San Leandro hundreds of thousands of dollars in election costs, according to city officials.

The surprising turn of events Monday night threw a monkey wrench into the city's plan to institute Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for this November's election. The council approved the voting system last January by a vote of 5-2, but Souza, who has been apprehensive of RCV in the past, switched her vote to no. Councilman Michael Gregory was on vacation in Japan and did not vote. The resulting deadlocked vote puts RCV's in doubt even though the city has already entered an agreement with the city's of Oakland and Berkeley to split the  system's startup costs.

"The deal is signed, sealed and delivered," said San Leandro Mayor Tony Santos, who along with Councilman Jim Prola have led the push to use RCV as a way of increasing voter participation, lower election costs and encourage others to enter the political arena.

Santos says staging a traditional plurality election in November and a possible runoff as early as February 2011 could cost the city $300,000. "It's just common sense that you would not do this with the city's finances like they are," Santos said. City Clerk Marian Handa said a stand-alone runoff could be costly at under $200,000.

In January, it was reported the one-time costs of RCV in the first year is $180,000, and reduced to $92,000 in subsequent years. At the time, Handa said the city would recoup its investment by 2014.

According to a report in the Daily Review, Souza said she decided to vote against the RCV ordinance after speaking with consituents who believed the voting system is confusing, while she doubted its cost savings. Souza, who is up for re-election this year, said she swayed by the audience the night of the January vote, which she said was stacked with "special interests" in favor of RCV. During the Jan. 19 discussion, a vast majority of the speakers were from the League of Women Voters, the liberal-leaning New America Foundation and mayoral candidate Stephen Cassidy and his supporters.

Santos disputed Souza's claim of an upswelling of doubt in the community saying, "I'm the mayor. I get more contacts than anyone on the council and since our decision, I have not had one contact tell me we took the wrong action."

Despite RCV's setback, the ordinance is still likely to pass when it is reconsidered at a council meeting April 19. Santos used authority located in a little-used sections of the city's charter to suspend the council's action setting up a revisting of the discussion that has raged since last year.

Section 305(h) of the city charter says, "the mayor shall: possess the authority to suspend implementation of any action taken by the Council by filing with the City Clerk, within three days after such Council action, a notice of suspension thereof. Such suspension shall constitute a motion for reconsideration of the action taken, to be voted upon by the Council at its next regular meeting.”

In many ways, the internecine feud over RCV has been an early mayoral proxy battle between Santos and Vice Mayor Joyce Starosciak, who has long opposed changing the manner San Leandrans elected their leading based on the one-time increased costs of implementation during a time of budget uncertainty. Souza, who typically votes with Starosciak on most matters, has in the past been critical of the mechanical aspects of RCV, often wondering whether some voters will be disenfranchised once their choice is eliminated and absorbed to other candidates.

In December, Souza had concerns over the city taking on higher expenditures at the expense of other services. "Facing the kind of budget situation we have today, if we pass IRV, we are going to have to cut something else," Souza said in December. Santos declined to say whether Souza's vote was political only saying, "This is between her and Joyce."
The CiTiZEN FILE on...Ranked Choice Voting.
>>>Voting System has All Sides Torn, Dec. 5, 2009.
>>>Council Votes to Push RCV Decision to January, Dec. 8, 2009.
>>>See You at the Polls...in November, Jan. 20, 2010.

JOIN THE REVOLUTION! www.eastbaycitizen.com


  1. It's unfortunate that Diana Souza would call involved citizens in her city a "special interest."

    I spoke at that meeting as a resident, voter, business owner, home owner and parent and I can't tell you whether it will favor Cassidy's chances at winning or not, but I can tell you that I spoke my conscience at that meeting.

    To argue that it will cost too much money to implement is to ignore the costs of not doing so, which are quite a bit greater for no gain.

  2. Steven,

    It's important to note that while a few persons that spoke at the January council meeting are supporting me, they spoke on their own behalf. We are all active in San Leandro affairs and believe RCV is a positive step for San Leandro to take.

    I have no idea how RCV could play out in the November elections, if it is used. What do I do know is that running for political office is expensive, even for local seats. By eliminating run off races, RCV reduces the cost of campaigns for candidates. Over time that will serve to inspire more persons to seek local office.

    This is primarily why I spoke in favor of RCV. I live here and, win or lose the mayor's race, I want persons on the council to represent me and my family that had to talk to voters and earn their seat. Democracy works best when we have contested elections.

    All the best,


  3. Way to go Diana!!! This Instant run-off crap was another Maltester plot to dilute the voters against him. The whole run-off scenario was contrived as a way to keep people off the ballot in case something went wrong with the Maltester Machine. The wicked witch of Woodland Avenue is dead and gone. Go back to a winner take all elections.

  4. Thank you, Mr. Cassidy, You are correct, you and your supporters clearly mentioned they spoke on their own behalf back in January. No implication was intended by including Cassidy supporters as "special interest", but merely a rough list of the many speakers from that night. Readers can discern for themselves whether the League of Women Voters and New America Foundation are special interests or not.

  5. The League of Women Voters has become a "special interest". They are mainly, liberal women fixated on pursuing a liberal agenda and candidates. Hardly a "non-partisan" group.

  6. I think if you spoke to most people in San Leandro, they would say they want Cassidy, and they definitely DO NOT want san-sense senile Santos. If ranked choice voting can help accomplish that, then it is a good thing.

  7. If a candidate with a experienced campaign consultant thinks his or her chances will decrease because of instant run off voting , than the candidate will not support the idea.Is that consultant costing the voters of San Leandro tax dollars? On the other hand , maybe a run off will force candidates to raise issue again in the general election, which will be another attempt at engaging citizens,which isn't a terrible thing either.In Europe RCV helps turn out, they also have proportional representation and a multi-party system. What would ultimately make campaigning more affordable would be district elections.


  8. Most people in San Leandro don't know their @$$ from hole in the ground. Otherwise they wouldn't have voted Tony "Babooze" Santos and Bob "Donut" Glaze and all the rest of the Zoo Council. This ranked choice voting was another Maltester scheme to dilute votes against his honey's.

  9. Maltester died before the council considered RCV, how is it his program?

    Bob Glaze has been off the council for quite some time, maybe you need to figure someone else to blame for your small dick insecurities.

    Mayor Santos won with 70% of the votes, therefore you think 70% of San Leandro is ignorant.

    Think you have the wrong side of whose ignorant

  10. RCV was instigated in 2000 when Maltester was fully alive and kicking and he was a backer of it. Bob "Donut" Glaze was on the Council in 2000 and a supportor of RCV. Tony "Babooze" Santos won 70% of the votes????? For Mayor? bahahahahhaahha I do believe there was a run-off. In the first election he didn't make 50%. Talk about delusional. Too much wine before posting. bahhahahahahahah

  11. Tony Santos, MayorApril 11, 2010 at 12:12 PM

    I love the comments; keep them coming. By the way, in the June election in 2006, I received near 48% of the vote. I was within 300 votes of winning outright. In the runoff, I had 56.9% of the vote, a mandate in my opinion. In June of 2004, I did receive receive 73% of the vote and received the hightest number of votes than any other candidate in City's history. It appears this will occur again this year.

  12. Mr. Santos received 73% of the vote in a race against two opponents who were not viable. It's surprising that he didn't do better.

    Mandate? In his runoff, Santos received just 150 more votes than Linda Perry did in her most recent election - and she lost by almost 4,000 votes.

  13. Get that bacalau and linguisa out and start passing it around Tony, you'll need it because you don't have Maltester to help you out this year.

  14. Tony Santos won by playing the race card against OB Badger--he jokingly made some comment about there always being a Portugee on council which was code to the old, white prejudiced people in San Leandro to remember that Badger is indeed, African American, so don't vote for him.

    While also a crook and incompetent, Badger at least had some major private sector accomplishments under his belt. I think Tony was an insurance adjuster who due to his advanced elderly age, must have mostly adjusted most Model T's and maybe some horse and buggies.

  15. Oh that that "old, white prejudiced people" crap and shove it up your cornhole. Badger was indeed incompetent and fell asleep at Council meetings. He was placed up there because he was a reliable vote for Maltester and Dale Reed. The guy reminded me of Scatman Cruthers. A lovable fool, but not Election Material. He was appointed on the Council and Maltester magically made it so that Badger had no opponents in the election for City Council. He had no support in the City to begin with, no base of voters.


  16. Anyway, Tony "Babooze" Santos couldn't get elected unless he had a couple tons of free linquisa to hand out. His supporters like "free" things.

  17. Hey Babooze Santos, how can you predict that you'll get 70% of the vote this year? You bringing Malty up from the grave to help with the ballots?

  18. I wonder what Mayor Santos will do when he's no longer Mayor? I wonder if he'll drop out of the race to avoid embarassment once it gets closer to election time and he realizes he'll lose?

  19. Santos will NEVER drop out of the race. He'll huff and puff and throw a tantrum, like he does in all his races, but he will NOT drop out.