In December 2020, I sent a letter to the City of Millbrae calling for an immediate transition to district elections (see: Former candidate challenges Millbrae’s election system in the Dec. 9, 2020, edition of the Daily Journal). In the past year, many of our neighbors have begun switching from at-large to district-based elections, including San Mateo, Burlingame and the San Mateo-Foster City School District. Earlier this week, I was informed that the city of Millbrae will change to district-based elections. This is a victory for all who have been restlessly campaigning for more fairness and equity in our local democracies.
We already elect our state and congressional representatives by district based on where we live. Districting allows candidates to dedicate their time to a smaller set of voters and empowers those running grassroots campaigns. Even in smaller cities, at-large elections have presented challenges to both candidates and constituents, which in turn diminish accountability. The outrageous costs associated with running a credible campaign in our current system has shut out promising candidates who do not have the means or resources to challenge incumbents funded by large corporations, wealthy donors and special interests.
Those not in the “inner circle” find it difficult having their voices heard, especially those from underrepresented demographics. Incumbents win elections year after year with no real accountability toward their campaign promises and commitments. District elections will truly amplify the voice of our community and we can finally look forward to fresh voices and meaningful diversity at City Hall.
You You Xue