As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Special Election Merry Go-Round

If you look at state economic statistics and the consistently worsening projections as each month of revenue collection goes by, you would recognize that, even if the positive talks on closing the current budget gap result in a deal, the possibility - even probability - of another deficit requiring a revision could take hold as early as this winter. That's what happened last year, and if anything the economy in the state has softened since then. At this time, the value of having a fully seated Senate and Assembly, due to the need for 54 Assembly votes and 27 Senate votes to move anything, becomes even more pronounced. Right now, we are down one Assembly seat owing to Curren Price's move to the Senate (owing to Mark Ridley-Thomas' election as LA County Supervisor last November). The CA-10 race could leave another opening if Sen. Mark DeSaulnier or Asm. Joan Buchanan emerge victorious. And in Los Angeles, an opening on the City Council may cost the Assembly another seat for a period of time.

Los Angeles voters showed a profound disinterest in the civic election in March when just 18% turned out, but there was a virtual stampede of candidates this week to run for the San Fernando Valley seat of former City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who won the race for city controller.

The slate of 14 candidates for the Sept. 22 special election reflects the varied geography of the 2nd District, which stretches from Studio City and Sherman Oaks at its southern border, through Van Nuys, Valley Glen, North Hollywood and Sun Valley to the rugged reaches of Sunland-Tujunga at its northern edge [...]

With just two months to raise money, a number of City Hall watchers are eyeing several strong contenders: former Paramount Pictures executive Chris Essel; state Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, a Democrat who lived in Burbank until moving this spring to Valley Glen; and Los Angeles Unified School District board member Tamar Galatzan.

Krekorian, who is an assistant majority leader, moved into the Council District but not out of his own Assembly District (Valley Glen is on the edge) to pursue this seat. If he wins, it probably wouldn't take effect until December 8, assuming that he doesn't reach 50% +1 on September 22. AD-51 (Curren Price's old seat) will have a new Assemblymember by November 3 at the latest, but Joan Buchanan or Mark DeSaulnier could reach the US Congress on the same day, and Krekorian might move to the LA city council and vacate AD-43 soon after. By the time all these special elections shake out, we'll be well into 2010.

All of this shows the need to modernize our system of filling special elections, which always seem to be more widespread in California. Wendy Greuel was elected City Controller back in March. There's little reason to drag out the search for her replacement this long. And if we had Instant Runoff Voting for the first round, we would not need to wait two months for an additional round, paralyzing state and local government and costing the state money in setting up additional elections. In the case of federal and state legislative elections, this is particularly perverse, since the way in which runoffs occur (with the top vote-getter in each party) almost always become useless races where the ultimate victor is well-known from the beginning.

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