Colton Council To Seek Voters’ Assent To Reduce Its Ranks From Seven To Five

With councilman Jack Woods and the newest addition to the seven-member Colton City Council making the difference, that panel this week took the first step toward reducing its ranks to five members this week.
The reversal of the 1992 voter-approved expansion of the council from five members to its current seven will yet need to be ratified by the city’s voters in a vote to come this November. Five of the council’s seven members on Tuesday voted to give the city’s 20,180 voters an opportunity to make such a decision, directing staff to prepare a ballot measure to reduce the council from seven to five members.
While the exact form of the ballot measure is not set, it is anticipated that the proposal will call for Colton maintaining its mayor, elected at large by all eligible voters in the 16.04 square mile city, while reducing the number of council wards from six to four.
At present, Colton and neighboring San Bernardino, the county’s largest city population-wise, are the only two of the county’s 24 municipalities with a seven member council. All of the others have five members. Colton, with its 54,800 residents, ranks 14th among the county’s cities in terms of population and 19th in terms of area.
Last year, as this time around, councilman Luis González instigated the discussion of reducing the city council’s ranks. When the concept was explored at the April 4, 2017 council meeting, González was able to garner the support of councilman Frank Navarro and Mayor Richard DeLaRosa. At that time, councilmen David Toro, Jack Woods, Isaac Suchil and then-councilwoman Summer Zamora Jorrin rejected the idea. Since that time, Jorrin resigned from the council and was replaced by Ernest Cisneros. Tuesday night, Suchil and Toro abided by their earlier positions on the issue, Woods appeared to have been persuaded by the reasoning of González and DeLaRosa, who propounded that in addition to cost savings, the reduction would streamline and efficientize the decision-making process.
Suchil and Toro were unwilling to concede that there would be any greater efficiency in eliminating two voting members of the council, and they suggested that rather what would occur is that a degree of representation would actually be lost. Suchil, a sheriff’s department employee whose family is provided with medical coverage under his employment benefits plan, said that the council could give up its members’ health insurance and other perquisites, such as vehicle, cell phone and computer allowances, achieving a $120,000 savings. He also tried to sell his colleagues on holding off on making the change until after 2020, when the U.S. Census will occur, thus saving the city the cost of having to do a population survey to fairly draw the new district boundary lines.
Despite Suchil and Toro’s resistance, however, Woods went to the side of the issue staked out by Navarro, DeLaRosa and González last year. And Cisneros went along with Navarro, DeLaRosa and González as well, making it a 5-to-2 vote to have staff lay out a proposal for a new district map.
As of this week, Colton has 3,446 voters in District 1; 3,364 voter in District 2; 2,999 voters in District 3; 3,167 voters in District 4; 3,923 voters in District 5; and 3,281 voters in District 6.
The city will need to have the proposal and its language as well as a proposed new district map completed for submission to the San Bernardino County Registrar of Voters no later than August 9 to get it on the November 2018 ballot.

Leave a Reply