Upland Leaves Northwest, Northeast, Southwest & Southeast Districts Relatively Intact

Presented with thirteen alternatives, the Upland City Council this week chose the one option which made the least geographical change to its existing electoral map.
Like all cities and other political jurisdictions and entities, Upland is redrawing its council ward borders in conformance with data from the 2020 Census.
Upland went to by-district voting in 2018, after having used an at-large electoral system in choosing its city council members for 112 years.
Upland’s 2018 election method transition was noteworthy.
A wave of moves to district or ward systems among multiple San Bernardino County cities began in 2014 when advocates of district or ward elections pushed for the change using the terms of the California Voting Rights Act to allege that those cities targeted were not electing enough so-called protected minorities – in this case meaning those of Hispanic extraction – to the county’s various city and town councils. In this way, Highland, Chino Hills, Chino, Redlands, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Fontana, Big Bear, Hesperia, Yucaipa, Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms were forced to make such a transition. Ontario will make a similar change this year.
Most, indeed, virtually all, of the city and town councils impacted by the change opportunistically used that mandate to gerrymander the newly created districts and then adjust the timing of their elections to benefit incumbents. This entailed drawing the district lines such that incumbents would not have to run against one another and scheduling the elections in those districts so that the end of each council member’s most recent election as a successful at-large candidate corresponded with the election season for the first by-district election in each council member’s district.
In Upland, however, because Councilwoman Janice Elliott was out of step with her council colleagues on a number of issues which had also divided the Upland community, the council attempted to use the by-district voting transition as a means of ending her tenure on the council rather than prolonging it. As Elliott had first been elected in 2016, she was not due to run for reelection until 2020. The other members of the council drew the city’s district map into what was otherwise a logical pattern, making four districts that were composed of the city’s northwest quadrant as District 1, its northeast quadrant as District 2, its southwest quadrant as District 3 and its southeast quadrant as District 4. It then timed the elections so that the District 2, 3 and 4 elections took place in 2018 and the District 1 and mayoral race took place in 2020.
The drawing of the Upland district map and the timing of the elections was intended to benefit then-Councilman Gino Filippi, who had been elected in 2010, reelected in 2014 and was due to run for reelection in 2018; and Councilwoman Carol Timm, who had been elected in 2014 and was due to seek reelection in 2018. Filippi resided in District 3 and Timm in District 4, so each conveniently was set to face voters in rhythm with their existing council tenures. Elliott was a resident of District 2. Were she to have simply served out until 2020 the at-large term to which she was elected in 2016, she would not have been eligible to run for the council in 2020, as the District 2 councilperson would at that time yet have two years remaining on his or her term. In this way, it had been Elliott’s council rivals’ intention to put her into a position whereby she would be forced to leave the council in 2020, unless she chose to run for mayor, in which case she would need to run against the entrenched mayor, that being Debbie Stone, with whom she was at odds.
Elliott in 2018, however, did not allow herself to be lulled into a state of complacency and comfort by virtue of being in office until 2020. Looking ahead at what the political and practical reality was, she declared her candidacy for the Upland District 2 council post in 2018, despite yet having two years in office left on her then-current at-large term. Ultimately, perhaps because the majority of the city’s voters were more in consonance with Elliott’s stance with regard to at least some of the issues the city had faced in the previous two years than were her council colleagues, she was victorious in the District 2 Council race while Filippi and Timm were turned out of office in their respective contests. Two years later, Elliott’s other council nemesis, Mayor Debbie Stone, was rejected by the city’s voters as well.
With that chapter behind it, the Upland City Council this year took up the task of determining not only how the city’s council districts would be drawn but how many there were to be.
With the onset of a council district system in Upland in 2018, the at-large mayor’s post was retained while the remaining four council positions were made into ones representing four geographical districts – northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast. On the table this time around was dispensing with the mayor’s post as one directly voted upon by the city’s voters in an at-large election and instead making five council positions and thereafter empowering the council to confer upon one of its five members the honorific of serving as mayor, which would involve presiding over the council’s meetings and representing the city at ribbon cuttings, groundbreakings and the like. Ultimately, the council rejected that option.
Thus, up for discussion was what configuration the four districts that remain were to take.
The city’s original district map basically used San Antonio Avenue and Foothill Boulevard as its major dividing lines.
The First District was located west of San Antonio and north of Foothill.
The Second District’s western border consists of San Antonio. On its southwestern side, its southern boundary runs along Arrow Highway below Foothill Boulevard and then zigs north up Euclid to 14th Street and across to Grove Avenue at the eastern border of the city with Rancho Cucamonga.
The northern border of both the First and Second districts is the city limit/border with San Antonio Heights along 24th Street.
The Third District has as its western border the city’s boundary with Claremont/Los Angeles County and Montclair. Its northern boundary is Foothill Boulevard. Its southern boundary runs along the city’s southern city limits, those being the boundary with Montclair on its west side and the San Bernardino Freeway/Ontario City Limits on its east side. Its eastern boundary is San Antonio from Foothill Boulevard to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Line, then eastward to Euclid and down Euclid to the Freeway.
The Fourth District is bounded by 14th Street from Euclid Avenue to Edgefield, south to Eddington Street and further east to Crawford Avenue, south to 13th Street and then east to Alta Avenue and south to Anita Street and running east, thereafter south on Grove Avenue at the city limits/border with Rancho Cucamonga to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Rail Line west to the Ontario/Upland boundary and south to Richland Street where the district line runs westerly until meeting the San Bernardino Freeway and heading west to Euclid Avenue, taking in the row of houses on the west side of Euclid north to the Santa Fe Burlington Rail Line and then west to San Antonio Avenue. Thereafter, the District 4 boundary heads east on Arrow Highway until it reaches the midway line between Palm Avenue and Laurel Avenue, heading east on 11th Street to Euclid, then north on Euclid to 14th Street.
The map chosen by the city council will add the residential neighborhood between San Antonio Avenue and Euclid Avenue between 21st Street and 24th Street. It detracts the same neighborhood from District 2, while adding the neighborhoods between 14th Street and Foothill Boulevard to give District 2 an even southern border along Foothill Boulevard all the way to the boundary with Rancho Cucamonga. The Third District has gained the neighborhood lying between San Antonio and Euclid between Foothill and 11th Street, much of which consists of the Upland High School campus. The Third District lost that portion of its former expanse south of the Santa Fe Burlington Northern rail line and between San Antonio and Euclid north of the city limits. The Fourth District loses its current expanse north of Foothill Boulevard to 14th Street such that its northern border is now Foothill Boulevard on its east side, but it is to gain the portion of the Third District south of the Santa Fe Burlington Northern rail line and between San Antonio and Euclid north of the city limits.
-Mark Gutglueck

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