Page 2 of 2
So when I hear opponents of district elections, including the Press Democrat's editorial director Paul Gullixson—incidentally, a very smart Santa Rosa resident who, ahem, lives on the east side—talk about district elections bringing "division" and echoing cries of "balkanization," I have to do a double-take.
You wanna talk balkanization? Roseland, with the largest concentrated Latino population in Santa Rosa, is still not included as an official part of the city. Santa Rosa's city limits completely circumvent Roseland, leaving a giant doughnut hole of non-city jurisdiction on the map. Never mind that this is a community that's been around for over a hundred years or that it has a vibrant concentration of locally owned businesses. The city doesn't want it.
Roseland lacks parks, libraries, community centers and other city amenities, and although Roseland is just one mile away from city hall, and surrounded on all sides by Santa Rosa, its residents don't get to vote in city elections. They literally have no vote to "protect" in the first place.
Could a city councilmember from the southwest area of Santa Rosa help give a much-needed voice to Roseland residents? Maybe even get a crosswalk painted on the street? Most people seem to think so.
In March, at a public meeting of the Charter Review Board, 44 of 46 speakers were in favor of district elections. (One of the two opponents was Keith Woods, of the North Coast Builders Exchange, who, some may remember, helped fund the 2010 David Rabbitt mailer about Mexican immigrants coming to your picnic and murdering your family.) Here's another thing: every candidate for city council except Olivares supports district elections. Gary Wysocky, Julie Combs and Caroline Bañuelos have been the most vocal on the issue, and, come to think of it, those might be good names to remember at the ballot box.
Three separate committees have recommended district elections for Santa Rosa as a step in the right direction toward equal representation. Many other cities follow the same model, as does the County Board of Supervisors and the school board, with no catastrophic results.
District elections won't divide the city; they'll ensure that every region of the city is represented on city council, which sounds a lot more like unity than what we've had for the last 30 years.
Vote yes on Measure Q.
Gabe Meline is the editor of this paper and lives downtown, roughly one Buster Posey home-run length away from city hall.