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Posted on: July 13, 2017

City of Fremont Transitions to District-based Election System

Color-shaded Fremont Council Districts

The City of Fremont will have six new Council districts for future City Council elections starting in November 2018 and the Mayor will continue to be elected at-large by all city voters. Under Fremont’s new district-based election system, voters may elect City Council candidates only from their district. This change to transition from at-large to district-based elections was adopted on June 13, 2017 by the City Council with an ordinance approving six new Council districts as shown in the map and establishing a phase-in schedule. The City is in the process of developing an interactive Council districts map that will provide an easy way for residents to look up a location and the resulting district number.

Beginning with the November 2018 election, voters will participate in the first district-based election when four City Council seats will be up for election. Those will be in District 1 (Northwest portion of the city— two-year term), District 2 (Central north portion), District 3 (Central portion), and District 4 (Eastern portion).

In the November 2020 election, voters in District 1 (Northwest portion), District 5 (South portion) and District 6 (Central south portion) will each elect a City Councilmember, and all voters will decide the Mayor’s position.

During the 2018 and 2020 elections, candidates will be elected from districts where they live pursuant to the following timetable:

 District Seat up for  Election Number of Years to  Serve Current  Councilmember
District 1 November 2018 2-Year Term* Vacant
District 2  November 2018 4-Year Term  Rick Jones 
District 3 November 2018 4-Year Term David Bonaccorsi
District 4 November 2018 4-Year Term Vacant
District 5 November 2020 4-Year Term Raj Salwan
District 6 November 2020 4-Year Term Vacant
 * In November 2020, the District 1 seat will become a 4-year term.
1) When the Mayor's four-year term expires in 2020, it will be filled by an at-large election of all city voters.  
2) Vinnie Bacon will remain an at-large councilmember until his term expires in November 2020.

Prior to the Fremont City Council adopting the Council district map and election sequencing on June 13, 2017, the Council took the following steps: On March 21, 2017, the City launched the process to convert its elections from the current at-large voting system to a district-based process. The Council held six public hearings in this process and considered a variety of draft district maps.

The final map was chosen after the public weighed in during public hearings, by email, via Fremont Open City Hall, our online citizen forum, and consideration of suggestions and a variety of draft maps submitted by the public and the City-hired demographer. The Council decided that the City’s population had to be approximately equally divided into six districts and the districts had to adhere to the rules set by the Federal Voting Rights Act. Districts also must meet criteria as set by the California Voting Rights Act.

How did this election system change come about? Fremont’s move to district-based elections began after the City received a letter on February 15, 2017 from an attorney in Southern California. The letter stated that Fremont’s at-large elections violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) and alleged that there was evidence of racially polarized voting in the Fremont election system. Under the CVRA, minimal evidence of racially polarized voting can result in a court ordering a change from at-large voting to district-based voting.

The process and timing were controlled by State and Federal laws. In order to comply, Fremont was required to identify the number of districts, adopt a map, and determine the election sequencing all within 90-days and with a minimum of five public hearings.

Throughout the public hearing process to transition from an at-large to a district-based election system, Fremont’s consultant team presented guidance on what factors should be taken into consideration when creating the new voting districts to ensure Fremont followed legally required criteria.

To learn more about Fremont’s transition from at-large to district elections and to view the district map, visit the district elections webpage.

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