The city of Santa Barbara entered into a Settlement Agreement when a Voting Rights Act lawsuit was filed by Majority-Minority citizens. As a result of this Agreement, a Judgement was entered that states:
City Council members are required to be residents of their respective electoral districts and to be nominated and elected by the residents of their respective electoral districts (“by-district elections”).
The Judgment does not identify what process the council must take when there is a vacancy in a district seat. So the current council chose to follow the city charter and fill the vacancy by a 2yr appointment. Our Stipulation does not identify what to do when there is a vacancy, but it is clear that a person holding a seat must be elected by the residents of the district. So legal action would be imminent after the appointment has taken place.
Districts where created to have neighborhoods choose their own representatives, not to allow for special interests to influence council members in an appointment process. Allowing for a council appointment will dissolve the voices of the voters within our highest Minority-Minority district. It will also anoint the person as an incumbent for future races.