FAIRFIELD — The days of odd-year City Council elections in Fairfield may soon be a thing of the past.
Council members instructed city staff Tuesday to begin the process of moving elections to even years. In doing so, members of the Fairfield City Council agreed with staff and county supervisors that moving the odd-year elections to even years would create more voter turnout by teaming it with state and national ballot items.
The idea was brought to the council by Solano County Supervisors Jim Spering and John Vasquez, who each represent a portion of Fairfield in their respective districts. Both men spoke to the council Tuesday while stressing the need to get as many voters to the polls as possible.
“If you want more voters, you need to move the elections to where the voters are,” Spering said.
Mayor Harry Price, Councilman John Mraz and Councilwoman Catherine Moy are all up for re-election in 2013. If elections were changed, those terms would be extended by a year. Council members Rick Vaccaro and Pam Bertani would also have their terms extended by a year, if approved.
The item is set to return twice in March for a reading of the proposed change. The Solano Board of Supervisors could approve the move in April.
One cost associated with the change is an estimated $20,000 the city would spend mailing out notifications to voters.
Staff presented numbers showing it costs more than $2 per voter during odd-year elections and how nearly twice as many people vote during traditional election years.
Vasquez said Vacaville made the move in the 1980s while he was on the council. He said there was some criticism, but it’s important to get the most people to vote as possible.
“Truly, it’s the people’s seat,” Vasquez said.
Joe Martinez told the council he felt the proposal came out of nowhere and expressed his disappointment that some candidates may fall through the cracks with more races on the ballot. Moy asked Martinez if he was planning to seek office. He said yes.
Martinez said even if he hadn’t planned to run, he wouldn’t be for the change. He said only having an election every two years would damper the excitement of younger people who want to follow the races in off years.
Bertani said she felt voters elected her for a four-year term and asked if there were any legal issues in extending the term for an extra year. Jim Karpiak, assistant city attorney, said the move didn’t violate any laws as long as the process was executed correctly.
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