Print Version _ New initiative aims to turn back the clock on Measure L
New initiative aims to turn back the clock on Measure L
Mayor hopes the new measure can be on the Nov. 2013 ballot
By Stephanie Lopez
Sanger Herald Correspondent
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 7:20 AM PST
For the second time in three years, Sanger citizens could be asked to change the way they elect their city council and mayor.
Sanger Mayor Joshua Mitchell is putting together a team to draft a new measure that would replace Measure L, passed by voters in 2010.
Mitchell could not provide specifics regarding the new measure, saying details are still being worked out.
“It’s all for a better government, we want the government that best represent the people of Sanger,” Mitchell said.
Measure L reduced the number of city council districts from five to four and established singlemember districts for each city council seat. This means that
voters from a specific district can only vote for council members that fall within their same district.
Prior to Measure L, city council members from separate districts were voted on atlarge, by all the voters within the city, regardless of what district the voter or
council member was from.
The most notable aspect of Measure L was that it established the direct election of the mayor of Sanger.
Measure L received widespread criticism and prompted a rebuke in a 2012 Fresno County Grand Jury report.
The report found that city officials had not done anything illegal by placing Measure L on the ballot, but highlighted poor communication and lack of
transparency within Sanger’s governmental proceedings.
“I do not believe [Measure L] was good government in how it was presented to the people,” Mitchell said. “The citizens of Sanger spoke loudly with its
passage, however with the grand jury report in place, and postpassage flaws discovered, I do believe there is an equal if not greater desire to fix Measure L.”
Mitchell hopes to have a new measure on the ballot by November 2013.
Political Consultant Mark Scozzari, who was approached by Mitchell, said the creation of the new measure is still in its infancy.
“While the intention for Measure L was done well, there is concern that there needs to be more recognition and involvement of the city council,” Scozzari said.
“In effect, the mayor wants more sharing of the spotlight to make sure all city council members are given the recognition they deserve.”
There are two ways of placing a new measure on the November 2013 ballot or June 2014 ballot, Scozzari said.
One way of placing a new measure on the ballot is by gathering signatures, Scozzari said. This is known as an initiative process.
Scozzari said this process requires signatures from 10 percent of the voting population from the previous gubernatorial election. Based on the California
Secretary of State’s 2010 general election statement of vote, this means that Sanger would need about 440 signatures, to place a new measure on the ballot.
The second way of placing a new measure on the ballot is through referendum, where the city council places the new measure on the ballot without the need of
Because Measure L was placed on the ballot by a previous city council, the current city council can use the referendum process to propose a new measure or
amend or repeal Measure L.
Mitchell said that although the city council can use the referendum process, they will opt to place this measure on the ballot by way of the initiative process.
County Clerk Brandi Orth from Sanger said the process has many different steps, some with legal deadlines.
“Whatever process the proponents undertake, a resolution approved and executed by the City of Sanger must be in the hands of the County Clerk by 88 days
prior to the November 5, 2013, which would be August 9th,” Orth said. “The proponents need to work backwards from that deadline to see if they can complete the
process in time to get the issue on the November 2013 ballot.”
Although Mitchell’s aim is to place the new measure on the ballot by November, he said that may prove to be too soon, logistically speaking.
In addition, placing a new measure on the ballot by November would prove to be very costly for the City of Sanger.
Former Mayor Mark D. Johnson, who is a practicing attorney and offered to help with the creation of a new measure, said the cheapest way place this measure
on the ballot is to combine it with a general election or with a scheduled election, so that the city doesn’t have to pay for the cost of the election separately.
"The mayor has mentioned it to me once or twice, but my understanding is that there is not a unanimous decision on the council to go forward with it,”