Geographical representation on the Placentia-Yorba Linda school district’s board of education might become more diverse as the district follows through on a stated “intent” to elect trustees from voting areas rather than the current at-large system for November 2018 balloting.
Presently, four Yorba Linda residents sit on the five-member board: Karin Freeman, serving since 1989; Eric Padget, serving since 2008; and Carrie Buck and Judi Carmona, each first elected in 2010. Carol Downey, a former Placentia mayor, has served since 2000.
The district had 89,276 registered voters for last year’s election, with 42,512 (47.6 percent) in Yorba Linda; 26,646 (29.8 percent) in Placentia; 10,898 (12.1 percent) in Anaheim; 6,428 (7.2 percent) in Fullerton; and 644 (less than 1 percent) in Brea.
Another 2,148 voters (2.4 percent) were in three unincorporated areas: East Placentia (596 voters) and Yorba Linda’s Country Club and Fairlynn county islands (1,552 voters).
If evenly divided, each trustee area would include about 18,000 voters. Candidates would be required to live in the designated area, and only voters residing in the area would be allowed to vote for that area’s trustee. Obviously, campaigns would be less costly.
Of course, where boundary lines are drawn will determine if one or more cities will have a majority of voters in one or more areas. Details regarding the boundary adoption process are to be determined, but public input is required.
Two trustee seats, now held by Buck and Freeman, are scheduled for the 2018 ballot. Terms for Carmona, Downey and Padget run through 2020, so full implementation for all five trustee areas is at least three years away.
“Given the potential financial and other consequences of a legal challenge” under California’s 2001 Voting Rights Act, “the board considers it prudent to initiate the process to transition to a by-trustee area system,” noted a recent resolution adopted on a 5-0 vote.
The North Orange County Community College District has seven trustee areas, with voting populations ranging from 46,000 to 77,000. Three include Yorba Linda voters: 1,635 in Area 5 represented by Anaheim’s Jacqueline Rodarte; 848 in Area 6 represented by Yorba Linda’s Jeff Brown; and 40,046 in Area 7 represented by Yorba Linda’s Ryan Bent.
Yorba Linda twice considered voting districts for City Council members: a 1978 advisory vote for districts passed 4,192 to 3,807, but the council “received and filed” the tally without…