By ROB SCHRODER
Mayor of Martinez
Many of you, like my wife and I, recently received a letter from the Contra Costa County Elections Department advising you that your precinct no longer has a polling place and you will be voting by mail, whether you signed up for it or not. I have received many emails from Martinez voters complaining that they do not trust voting by mail and want to cast their ballot in person at their neighborhood-polling place.
New District Elections
If you are wondering who, what, when and why this is happening, you have only to look at the recent threat of lawsuit from a Malibu attorney recruited by a small group of Martinez residents and led by a former Martinez elected official. The attorney sent a demand letter to the city last fall accusing the city of discriminating against minority groups, primarily Latinos, and asserting that our“at large”system of elections was biased against those minority groups.
Under threat of a lengthy and expensive lawsuit, the city council went through the process to move to“district”elections for city council and retain the“at large”mayor.
We held the required six public hearings to review the demographics of the city and took input from the public.
Under protest, the city council adopted an ordinance that established four city council districts, with each district running from the waterfront in the north to the Pleasant Hill city limits and Pacheco in unincorporated Contra Costa County.
Every member of the city council was concerned that establishing districts that separated the city into different geographical areas would pit one neighborhood against another for city resources and services. It was decided that every district would have a portion of the waterfront, downtown core, midtown, and neighborhoods south of Highway 4. We consulted with the County Elections department on several occasions and made all the adjustments to the districts they suggested in order to reduce the work that was required to change precincts to match the districts.
As a result of the implementation of district elections, the County Elections Department has decided to move voters in precincts with 250 or less registered voters to mail-in ballots. However, if you have a mail-in ballot, you can cast that ballot at any Martinez polling place and also at the County Elections Department at 555 Escobar Street in downtown Martinez. If you have questions or would like to file a complaint, you can contact the Contra Costa County Elections Department at outreach@ vote.cccounty.org.
The month of September is going to be a busy month for the Martinez City Council. We will be considering the conditional use permit and development agreement for a medicinal cannabis operation in an industrial park area in the south of town. This application is being made under the medical cannabis ordinance that was originally approved in 1998.
The temporary recreational cannabis ban that the city council approved prior to the end of 2017 will be up for review in November and possibly December. At that time, the city council will review and take action on allowing or disallowing retail sales, delivery, and commercial wholesale growing and testing within the city limits.
Lastly, I want to thank the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball for choosing Martinez as one of their two expansion teams in the league. The Clippers had a wonderful first season, and over the course of the season, attendance boomed and Martinez embraced their hometown team.
More thanks goes out to the staff of the City of Martinez. If it was not for their creative approach to problem solving and looking for ways to make things happen and knocking down roadblocks, the Clippers would not be a reality.
However, if it were not for Paulette and Jeff Carpoff agreeing to invest yet again in their hometown by becoming the owners of the Clippers, none of this would have ever come to fruition. Affordable, family-friendly hometown entertainment has come to Martinez and will be even better next year.