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.
Notes:  
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.

Background and 

Public Hearings


The number and make-up of the voting districts were decided upon by the Fremont City Council through six public hearings. (A minimum of five public hearings is required by California Elections Code.) All public hearings (see schedule below in the table) took place at Fremont City Hall, in the Council Chambers, at 7:00 pm. as part of the regularly-scheduled City Council meeting. Watch past City Council meetings.

These public hearings gave the Fremont community an opportunity to weigh in on the composition of the districts during the first two public hearings on April 4, 2017 and April 18, 2017. Then, district maps were drafted and two additional public hearings were held for the public to provide input on the draft maps and proposed sequence of elections on May 2, 2017 and May 16, 2017. An additional public hearing was added and took place on June 6, 2017. At the final public hearing on June 13, 2017, the City Council adopted an ordinance establishing district-based elections.

In preparation for the first two public hearings regarding the consideration of the number of districts and boundaries, the following maps were used to guide the conversation related to considerations the Council could take into account when identifying number and locations of districts for a district-based election system. 

Maps from the 1st Public Hearing held on April 4, 2017:


Total Population by 2010 Census
Total Population by Race/Ethnicity
Total Population by Neighborhood
Distribution of Housing Units by Neighborhood
Total Population by High School Attendance Area
Total Population by Elementary School Attendance Area
Staff Report and Presentation


Maps from the 2nd Public Hearing held on April 18, 2017:


Pieces Overview with accompanying database
Pieces and the City's Neighborhoods
Pieces and Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) High School Attendance Areas
Pieces and Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Elementary School Attendance Areas
Pieces and the City's Business Districts
Population Estimates by Race/Ethnicity by Piece
Pieces and the City's Residential Units
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Overlay and Transit Locations
Staff Report and Presentation

Draft District Maps for the 3rd Public Hearing to be held on May 2, 2017:


Brief Description of Draft Plan Characteristics
Tentative Election Schedule
Current Incumbency

Detailed Data for Draft Plan A
Draft Plan A Council Districts Map

Detailed Data for Draft Plan B
Draft Plan B Council Districts Map

Detailed Data for Draft Plan C
Draft Plan C Council Districts Map

Detailed Data for Draft Plan D
Draft Plan D Council Districts Map

Detailed Data for Draft Plan E
Draft Plan E Council Districts Map

May 2, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda and Staff Report
Chinese
English
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese
​Draft Maps A-E with High School Attendance Areas
Map with Citizen Voting Age Population
Map with Afghan Ancestry Population Estimates

Draft District Maps for the 4th Public Hearing to be held on May 16, 2017:


Draft Map Details
Draft Plan C-1
Draft Plan C-2
Draft Plan M

Draft Plans with Neighborhoods Color-Shaded
Draft Plan C-1, C-2, and M - D2 and D3 detail with Afghan Community Locations

Draft Plan C-2a - D2 and D3 detail with Afghan Community Locations

May 16, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda and Staff Report


Chinese
Dari
English
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese


Draft District Maps for the 5th Public Hearing to be held on June 6, 2017:


​Draft Plan C-1a Color-Shaded Districts
Draft Plan C-2b Color-Shaded Districts


Draft Plan C-1a Neighborhoods
Draft Plan C-2b Neighborhoods
Detailed Data Tables for Plan C-1a and C-2b plus incumbency table
Plan C-1a D2-D3 detail with Afghan Community Locations
Plan C-2b D2-D3 detail with Afghan Community Locations

June 6, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda and Staff Report


Chinese
Dari
English
Hindi
Punjabi
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese

June 6, 2017 Draft Ordinance Plan C-1a


Chinese
Dari
English
Hindi
Punjabi
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese

June 6, 2017 Draft Ordinance Plan C-2b


Chinese
Dari
English
Hindi
Punjabi
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese

June 13, 2017 City Council Meeting Agenda and Staff Report


Chinese
Dari
English
Hindi
Punjabi
Spanish
Tagalog
Vietnamese

Public Hearing Timeline in 2017


All public hearings were held at Fremont City Hall, 3300 Capitol Ave., in the Council Chambers, at 7:00 pm as part of the regularly-scheduled Council meeting.
Date
Time Location    
Event Comment
March 21, 2017
Resolution of Intention:
City Council adopts
Resolution declaring its
intention to transition from at-large
to district-based
elections.
California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) Action cannot be commenced for 90 days.
March 22 - April 3, 2017 Public Outreach Re: Process & Participation
No maps drawn yet
April 4, 2017 
City Hall
7:00 pm
1st Public Hearing Re: Composition of Districts
No maps drawn yet
April 18, 2017 
City Hall 7:00 pm
 
2nd Public Hearing  Re: Composition of Districts
No maps drawn yet
April 25, 2017 Post Draft Maps and
Potential Sequence of
Elections
 
May 2, 2017 
City Hall 
7:00 pm
3rd Public Hearing Re: Draft Maps
May 9, 2017 Any Amended Maps
Posted
 
May 16, 2017 
City Hall
7:00 pm
4th Public Hearing
Public hearing to receive input from the community regarding content of district boundary draft maps and proposed sequence of elections pursuant to Elections Code Section 10010.

June 6, 2017
City Hall
7:00 pm
5th Public Hearing
Public hearing to review draft maps, sequence of elections, and introduction of an ordinance of the City of Fremont to transition from at-large to district-based elections
 
June 13, 2017 6th Public Hearing
Public hearing/second reading and adoption of an ordinance of the City of Fremont to transition from at-large to district-based elections
 
June 19, 2017 Day 90  
July 6, 2017  Effective date of ordinance
establishing district elections
 
June 19, 2018 Council adopts resolutions
calling for election, requesting
consolidation, etc.
 
July 16 - August 10, 2018 Candidate nomination period  
November 6, 2018 First election using new
district-based election system
 

News Releases

Impact on California Cities

A number of cities in California have been sued since the CVRA was adopted in 2001, and none have avoided the mandate for district-based elections. There is a low threshold for plaintiffs to establish a valid claim under the CVRA, and if the plaintiff prevails, the city is required to pay the plaintiff’s costs. Awards in these cases reportedly have reached upwards of $3.5 million. Considering the significant costs to defend against a CVRA lawsuit and the fact that no city has prevailed, a majority of cities have voluntarily transitioned to district-based election systems.

On January 1, 2017, the California Voter Rights Act Reform (AB 350) became effective which allows cities a “safe harbor” following receipt of a CVRA demand letter. This provides 45 days of protection from litigation to assess the situation, and if a resolution declaring intent to transition to district-based elections is adopted within the 45-day period, then the potential plaintiff cannot file a CVRA action for an additional 90-day period, providing the City time to assess and implement a course of action.


Additional Information


If you have any questions about Fremont's transition to a district-based election system, contact the City Clerk's Office by email or call 510-284-4060.