National City Completes Creation of City Council Electoral Districts
It’s official: the new Old Town and Philippines/Asia-Pacific districts of National City will be elected in November.
The city council concluded a four-month process last week to move from citywide elections to a district system. They officially codified the movement by a vote of 4 to 1 when they passed an ordinance establishing the transition and selected two of its four new districts to be elected this year.
The move to council districts means that voters can only choose candidates living in their districts. The mayor will continue to be elected by universal suffrage.
The four wards of National City are:
- District 1, or Old Town National City, includes everything west of Avenue D and Highland Avenue starting at 16th Street.
- District 2 is northeast of District 1 and runs along Avenue D between Division and 16th streets. It includes several Filipino/API companies and is known to have a high concentration of Filipino seniors. It also has the largest population of Latino voters at 65%.
- District 3, adjacent to District 2, is the “Filipino/API Empowerment District”, which has about 8,000 API residents and 34% of them are eligible voters. Its boundaries include the northeast part of the city. Parts of the Division, 4th, 8th, and 16th Streets, and Plaza Boulevard create its jagged western terminus.
- District 4 is the southeast region of the city, with western boundaries along Highland Avenue between 16th and 30th Streets and portions of Sweetwater and Bonita Roads. It has the second largest population of Latino voters at 63%.
The city decided to switch in November when it received a letter from San Diego attorney Audie J. de Castro. He alleged that the city’s general election violated California Voting Rights Law and marginalized the local API community, which makes up nearly 20% of the city’s 56,000 residents.
To avoid potential litigation — every California city that tried to fight subdistricts lost — National City went ahead with the process. In San Diego County, Coronado, Del Mar, La Mesa and Lemon Grove continue to operate as part of large-scale systems.
The town’s demographer held several public hearings and community workshops to receive input on where council district boundaries should be drawn. In total, the city reviewed 13 maps, 10 of which were drawn by the public and three by the city’s demographer.
“Thank you to everyone who has been part of this process, who is here today, who has been present at previous meetings and everyone who has participated in this four-month process,” said Mayor Alejandra Sotelo- Solis.
On March 21, the city council agreed to hold a final public hearing last week to determine the order of the districts and seal the process with an ordinance. There was no opposition during public comments.
As he did last month, Council member Ron Morrison voted the only “no”, saying he was opposed to changing the procedure for determining the sequence. The council originally decided to determine the order of district elections via a coin toss, but abandoned that decision and, via a 4-1 vote, with Morrison opposed, chose Districts 1 and 3 instead. to be the first.
Sotelo-Solis said the public had expressed a reasonable concern that if Districts 1 and 3 were not selected in a November election ballot, the API and Old Town communities would face another election without representation.
The November ballot will ask voters to select representatives for District 1, an area that hasn’t had a council member in years, and District 2, where council members Morrison and Mona Rios live. Their general terms are up this year and in November only one can represent the district. In July 2021, Morrison filed paperwork to run for mayor, a post he previously held from 2006 to 2018.