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By Daniel Ritz

During an emotionally charged Dana Point City Council meeting on April 30, City Council neared the end of the on-going by-district voting conversion that began in February by holding the first reading of an ordinance establishing and implementing by-district elections for City Council elections.

Beginning in Nov. 2018, Dana Point will vote for their single representative City Council member according to which district they live in. According to the California Voters Rights Act (CVRA), incumbent’s current at-large selected terms cannot be interrupted and the decision, if passed by a second reading, could potentially have large impacts on the political make-up of the Dana Point City Council.

The decision to move forward with five voting districts resulted after receiving support from Council members Paul Wyatt, Joe Muller, John Tomlinson and Mayor Richard Viczorek. Council member Lewis was the sole opponent to the five-district conversion.

“Four voting districts with an at-large mayor is the worst of all evils,” Mayor Viczorek said, explaining that four districts with an at-large Mayor still left Dana Point in violation of the CVRA without fully embracing at-large voting potential.

The specific district map, called “Tan VI” by National Demographics Corporation (NDC), was chosen by a 4-0 vote.

“I cannot vote for anything but four districts,” Lewis said after it was revealed that she had abstained from the decision.

Mayor Viczorek reasoned that the Tan VI map was superior since it recognized the largest number of predetermined criteria to be considered for by-district voting as stated in the staff report prepared by Dana Point City Attorney Patrick Munoz.

It was Council member Tomlinson who suggested that the districts to be up for election in 2018 would be districts one, two and three. District one largely encompasses the Monarch Beach community. District two largely represents the Dana Woods and Dana Hills communities near Dana Hills High School. District three extends north along Del Obispo Street and across the interior toward Alta Vista Drive across the northern border of the Lantern District.

  • A full interactive map of the Tan VI map can be seen HERE.
  • The other maps can be viewed in PDF form HERE

After Tomlinson’s suggestion, Lewis suggested that the districts to be determined up for election in 2018 be selected at random from a hat, stating later that this was an attempt to take the politics out of the selection. That motion did not receive a second.

Lewis found herself alone again when Council member Wyatt joined Mayor Viczorek, Mayor Pro Tem Muller and Council member Tomlinson in voting 4-1 in support of districts one, two and three being up for election in 2018.

After her attempts to move Dana Point to four districts with an at-large Mayor did not garner support from her Council majority, and then her suggestion that the the order of districts to vote be selected at random did not receive a second, Lewis sat in silence. Photo: Daniel Ritz

“I cannot describe my feelings of how embarrassed I am for this Council,” Lewis said during a phone call with the Dana Point Times after the meeting.

After the reading of the ordinance, Lewis stormed out of the City Council chambers.

“I don’t know why (they are waiting for me to return), my vote doesn’t matter anyway,” Lewis was overheard saying on the telephone outside the open doors to Council chambers.

Lewis and Wyatt, who both currently reside in what is district four, await their four-year election cycles in 2020 (they were elected in 2016) where there will be one City Council representative. Tomlinson will not be able to run in 2018 as district five will not be up for election until 2020, leaving most of the Capistrano Beach area without a City Council vote since 2014.

The second reading, necessary for passing any ordinance, will be heard on Tuesday, May 15 during City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

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About The Author Dana Point Times

comments (6)

  • Childish behavior from council member Lewis. After numerous meetings, discussion, etc…. to be such a bad sport, is down and out embarrassing. I remember when two members voted against the smoking ban, both thought it was in violation of Liberty, they lost and they both moved on. Why can’t Lewis?

    We need leaders who take the responsibility of the office with all seriousness. Not one who only has the interest of a select few (Capo Cares and her Save DP friends), not the citizens.

    We need to replace her – she is always on the losing side of issues (except smoking, where she provided half truths to the citizens)

    She voted to cut the police budget in a time of growing homelessness,
    She has cost the city thousands in lost revenue due to her being behind Measure H,
    She has cost the city thousand’s in extra work on the council, due to her delays and forced votes.

    The list goes on and on and on. Time for a change, the Resistance has failed! It’s time for Ms. Lewis to resign, for the best interest of the city.

  • People across Dana Point know Debra has their back on district voting and every issue where she pushes back and fights for us. That will be clear to MC Cares in November when Dana Point voters elect candidates endorsed by and aligned with Debra Lewis.
    Your claims are empty political rhetoric, not valid and nobody is fooled by your rant.

  • Pure racist effort to sell our City to the resort hotels. I am disgusted but not surprised.

  • Districting has made a Council seat more readily accessible and has hopefully defanged that developer at the Headlands and will keep him from buying and selling City Councils. With the City Council being more accessible and within reach of many more people, lets hope that more candidates choose to run for City Council so we have local government truly run by the people and not by that certain developer and other special interest groups. We need a part-time City Council as opposed to one governed by local factions that take a parochial approach towards governance and their special interests. Districting is a big step in getting Dana Point on track to embrace good governance by getting better people to represent our interests, rather than the few who can afford to play or rely upon a deep pocket developer to get elected. There is hope for democracy in Dana Point!

  • Debra Lewis has integrity and she represents many people who don’t have the time or the knowledge or the social standing required to participate in city government. There are more of them than there are developers, and combined, they have more money. But until the people become empowered their voices will be silenced by the few who know how to manipulate the system for their own profitable ends. .

  • Disgusted in Dana Point Reply

    This article misses the point entirely. Was the reporter even there? The big story is that the incumbents voted for their own districts – districts that had only 7 and 9% voting age minorities – in a blatant example of self-interest. There was no real discussion of maps – just Mueller saying “I like Tan VI” and Tan VI it was. No discussion of why that was best for residents – no worries – it was best for Mueller and Viczorek. And instead of applying the “rules” equally and running Capo Beach which also had an incumbent (even though he didn’t have the nerve to run), John Tomlinson threw his community under the bus and suggested districts 1, 2, and 3. Never mind that Capo had 17% minority population or that this would be a fair application of the self-dealing “rules”. Was this ever about minorities? Or fairness to residents? Nope. Just help the incumbents get reelected. They wouldn’t have stood a chance in an at -large election. Perhaps that was the whole point from the beginning.

    This whole thing smelled bad from the beginning, starting with the La Jolla lawyer appearing out of nowhere and Munoz sending out a capitulation letter in 15 days instead of the allowed 45.. Viczorek’s insistence that 4 districts and an at large mayor is somehow “in violation of the CVRA” shows that he’s not much of a lawyer – or a listener. It was clear that NO cities have been sued for 4 plus mayor, that over 140 cities in CA have 4 districts plus mayor and that this method is articulated in a CVRA-related regulation. This Council decides on the answer they want and then uses ever reliable Patrick Munoz to create “alternative facts” to support it. Look out Dana Point. This time it was Capo. Next time, who knows? And don’t hold your breath waiting for that survey they voted 5/0 on – the one to see if lowly citizens actually preferred 4 plus mayor. The chances of seeing those results before 5/15 when they cement our disenfranchisement are about like the chances of the proverbial snowball. Lewis was right when she said she was embarrassed for her Council. We should all be embarrassed that we ever elected these corrupt politicians.

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