San Jose Kills program for a tiered vote

The tiered vote in San Jose is dead and the proposal to expand the number of county councils is delayed.

Both ideas were the most substantive recommendations raised by the Citizens’ Convention Review Committee, which spent about a year researching how to make San Jose’s system of government more egalitarian, accessible and effective.

The city council reviewed 15 recommendations at a special meeting on Monday to decide which proposals to raise for voters in November, which to learn more and which to reject altogether. Officials have finally decided to come up with five recommendations focusing on inclusion and accountability at the ballot box for the rest of the year. The city council also rejected three recommendations – to change the way the city director is employed, to set up future art review committees every decade and to set regular reviews at the department level.

Only three council members – David Cohen, Sergio Jimenez and Raoul Perls – supported bringing the graded vote to residents to consider at the polls. Cohen suggested reconsidering this in 2024 to allow for another call, but it was still rejected.


A tiered election allows voters to choose the first, second and third choice for elected officials. If a resident’s first choice is removed from the race, his vote moves to the second choice. The process continues until a single candidate wins a majority of votes.

“Leaving all candidates to the ballot box in the general election when the turnout is highest provides the most input that voters can give as to who their preferences are,” Cohen said, pointing to a number of studies highlighting how women’s representation – especially women of color – has risen since the Gulf adoption. Auckland, Berkeley and San Francisco.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.

Opponents, however, fear it could lead to a candidate winning by a majority. Some also point to a possible conspiracy between candidates. For example, in the 2018 San Francisco mayoral race, two candidates posted ads to vote for both to ensure the third candidate would not win.

Council members Magdalena Cresco and Maya Asperza said voting in the ranking is detrimental to disenfranchised communities because it complicates the voting process.

“Simplicity is the name of the game,” Cresco said.

Expansion of council districts

Council members did not spend much time examining the expansion of council districts from 10 to 14 and agreed that this would be better discussed in 2025. This would give the council time to plan how to align the expansion line with the redevelopment process after the 2030 census.

Supporters like Cohen and Jimenez said an expansion from 10 to 14 counties would create better representation in San Jose. The 10 counties of the county were implemented in 1978 and since then the population of San Jose has more than doubled, with the number of residents in the county jumping from 60,000 to more than 100,000.

“This is a conversation worth conducting to ensure that council offices can best serve their residents,” Cohen and Jimenez wrote in a memorandum. “But we have not yet re-examined the question of the size of the district and the appropriate ratio of residents to the district.”

Opponents said 14 is an arbitrary number, and further research is needed to find the right balance between smaller districts and a functioning city council.

Hoi Tran, who served on the convention review committee, said it was not specifically related to the number, but to representation. He compared it to sizes in the classrooms.

“A teacher can be more effective with 20 to 25 students than with 40 to 45,” Tran told San Jose Spotlight. “The same can be said with councilors, especially when talking about a city like San Jose, which has so many different neighborhoods and so many different enclaves.”

Tran said the committee did not specify which counties need to be changed, but noted that the 2030 redistribution process would probably be the best time to make those changes. San Jose recently changed its county boundaries after the completion of the 2020 census to make sure the counties fairly reflect population changes.

What goes before the voters?

While the two substantive proposals have not progressed, five recommendations focusing on inclusion and accountability will reach San Jose voters in November.

These recommendations include adding recognition of native land to the city charter recognizing local tribes; Use of language containing gender in city documents; Determining equity values, standards and valuations; Equity management and inclusion in urban programming and budgeting; And reforms of councils and committees to allow non-citizens to serve on councils and provide scholarships.

The majority of the council approved these recommendations, with councilors Matt Mahn and Dev Davis in opposition. Mayor Sam Licardo is absent.

Davis and Mahn did not support the item because they wanted further analysis before passing it on to voters.

“We started having these conversations, but raising it already at the ballot box, not knowing what it means or (its effects), really worries me,” Davis said.

The Council will discuss these sections below to determine whether to split them into different means, further define these objectives and finish the language ahead of the November vote.

The Convention Review Committee was set up in the summer of 2020 to learn how to improve the government system and municipal services of San Jose, after Lycardo proposed moving to a system of strong mayors – an idea the committee eventually rejected.

The committee has also invested considerable time in creating recommendations for improving policing, which will be part of a future discussion. Recommendations include the establishment of a police commission, an independent investigative department and the Office of the Inspector General, which will have more power than the city’s independent police comptroller.

The committee’s recommendation to transfer the mayoral election to the presidential cycle will come before voters in November.

Other recommendations of the Convention Review Committee focus on combating institutional and structural inequality, creating a climate action committee and further examining the Opportunity for Community Acquisition Act and other opportunities for home ownership.

The city council has decided not to officially pass these recommendations on Monday as these changes do not require a treaty amendment. Many of those ideas are also already part of the municipality’s priorities, according to city officials.

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