By Miriam Raftery
January 22, 2016 (El Cajon) – Grossmont Union High School District’s board voted unanimously last Thursday to shift from at-large elections to district elections in which each trustee will represent a specific portion of the district. The move comes after an attorney for Diego Valley Charter School sent the district a letter advising that it may be in violation of the Voting Rights Act and threatening legal action.
The goal of both the federal and state Voting Rights Act is to assure fair representation of minorities and prevent elected bodies from splitting up minority neighborhoods to avoid having their voices heard.
The Grossmont District will hold three public hearings on the matter at January 26 at 4 p.m. February 11 at 6 p.m. and February 25 at 4 p.m. All meetings will be at the East County Regional Education Center, 924 East Main Street in El Cajon.
The El Cajon City Council recently also voted to change to district elections. Both districts have a large population of Middle Eastern immigrants, particularly Iraqis, as well as many Latino voters.
The Grossmont district has indicated it has hired a demographics company to help determine how to draw up the districts. A demographics consultant gave a presentation at the meeting which was covered by the San Diego Union Tribune (see story: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/jan/18/grossmont-school-district-change-voting-methods/.)
The new districts should be in place before the November election. Trustees Prescilla Schreiber and Jim Stieringer are both up for election this year. Schreiber lives in Lakeside and Stieringer lives in La Mesa. Jim Kelly also lives in Lakeside, while Gary Woods lives in El Cajon and Robert Shield residents on the boundary of El Cajon and Lakeside.