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SLO City Council granted an extension to consider potential changes to elections

The city has until Jan. 31, 2020
Posted at 11:00 AM, Dec 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-07 14:00:08-05

The San Luis Obispo City Council has until January 31, 2020 to potentially change its way of electing city council members.

Administrators for the city received a letter in November demanding a change in the current at-large voting system and threatening a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act.

Since then, the city filed for an extension and has been granted extra time to make a decision.

"There are several different things that you might be able to do slightly differently in order to ensure that we have as open and inclusive elections as possible," said SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon.

Currently, San Luis Obispo residents vote for the same candidates for City Council and Mayor. However, if the city does change its voting system, it will be divided into districts and residents will only be able to vote for a city council member that's running in their area.

City councilwoman Erica Stewart says it is necessary that people of all ethnicities are represented, but thinks the proposed new system isn't necessarily the best option for a city like SLO.

"We don't have one group of any race or ethnicity that is in one certain concentrated area, so I'm concerned if we end up going to districts, the whole point of racial and ethnicity inclusion will be lost," added Stewart.

Santa Maria, Paso Robles and Grover Beach are among the cities that will be making the change to district elections.