CAROL WILSON, Capistrano Beach
For the first time in city history, there will be no election in Dana Point for City Council. That’s right, three of our five districts will have no vote for another four years. All the candidates ran unopposed, and a decision was made to “appoint these candidates” by the current City Council.
No need for these candidates to campaign or spend a dollar to get the office. No chance for a write-in vote, no chance to vote, period. Next door in San Clemente, there are 12 candidates running; San Juan Capistrano has three candidates running. These “appointed” candidates represent three-fifths of the city’s residents.
You have to wonder how this happened. Is the City Council experience so toxic no one wants to run anymore? This started out when an unknown attorney from La Jolla threatened to file a lawsuit if DP did not convert to districts. This attorney has some connection to parties in this scheme, as that attorney had never filed a lawsuit regarding that issue prior. Records would have to be searched to see if that attorney ever threatened another city after that.
Districts were originally proposed as a way to allow minorities a greater chance to vote and participate in local government. It was never disclosed if, indeed, Dana Point even qualified for districting, as qualifying population numbers were never released.
The City Council tried to rush through that process, but was held up for a while by prior councilmembers who believed the public should have a voice in how the districting was done. Several workshops were held, public input was taken, and promptly disregarded.
Districts were formed by what was most advantageous to the councilmembers at the time in the majority. Public input suggested we have a mayor at-large that would allow the whole city to vote for that office, in addition to four districts, as was allowed by the law, that was also shot down.
It is noteworthy that the impartial firm hired to set up the districts was referred by the city attorney.
So, now the majority of Dana Point has no vote at all; this is a story ripe for an investigative report by the press or some other deep-pocket organization that can search for collusion, and find a way to restore voter rights in Dana Point.