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DLANC Elections Draw Near; Participation Up, But Some Hurdles Remain

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, June 02, 2008, at 08:32PM

California's Primary election is tomorrow, June 3rd, but Downtown's big day comes a little over a week later, when the DLANC elections take place on Thursday, June 12th. It will be the fourth election for the neighborhood council, with the last having been held in September of 2006.

DLANC's seen very positive growth in the past two years, but challenges to participation still remain. Perhaps the most positive sign: the number of candidates has jumped from 38 in 2006 to 59 in 2008. Stakeholders have the chance to meet those individuals at a Candidate Forum to be held Wednesday, June 4th, at the Palace Theatre.

All twenty-eight seats on the Board of Directors are up for grabs on the 12th, with those elected serving two year terms. Jim Winstead has been doing a terrific job collecting election information (and general DLANC information) over at the unofficial DLANC News blog.

While those interested are very well-served to go check out Wednesday's Candidate Forum, DLANC's bylaws give rise to odd voting rules that severely limit how much good that does. Candidates run in different stakeholder categories, and the bylaws require that each voter identify one category and vote for that category alone. At most, voters are able to vote on only three candidates: one for their district, one for the appropriate Area-Wide seat, and one non-specific At-Large seat.

So, for instance, a voter who lives in South Park and owns a business can choose to identify as stakeholder in the Residential or Business categories, but can only vote for one or the other. A gallery owner could declare for either the Arts or Business categories, but would only be able to vote in one of the races.

When I ran for the Area-Wide Resident Artist Seat in 2006, I used blogdowntown to tell people not to vote for me. I was running unopposed, and anyone eligible to vote for me was also eligible to vote in one of the other categories. For someone to vote for me would have meant that they were throwing away a vote that could have gone to another candidate. I won, with 1 vote -- my own.

The outcome of this structure is a confusing mess, where candidates are confused on who they should outreach to and voters aren't sure who they're able to cast their vote for. Given the limited number of people who turn out for a neighborhood council election, DLANC should be working to make participation easier, not more difficult. Hopefully this situation is one that will be quickly addressed by the new board so that it doesn't occur again.

DLANC Candidate Forum

June 4th / 6:30pm / Palace Theatre / 630 S. Broadway

DLANC Election

June 12th / 2pm - 8pm / Los Angeles Theater / 615 S. Broadway

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