"With over 54,000 registered Whittier voters, an average of 7,000 voted in the last five elections"
Stephanie Vallejo, M.S., Law Enforcement, RET., Community Advocate, & Proponent
Margie Rodriguez, Cesar E. Chavez Remembrance Program Founder & Proponent
Monica Sena, Ed.D., School Administrator, RET. & Community Leader
Nick Donovan, Community Leader, W.H.O.W. Member & Proponent
Whittier's current election process gives the advantage to incumbents. Some members of our city council have each been in power for 12, 18, and 19 years. The incumbent's name recognition and well-established relationships with donors (many of which are outside special interests) discourages new candidates to seek office.
Local reform would create more opportunities for leadership and promote a fair electoral system. It would encourage new candidates to seek office with new ideas, new enthusiasm, and a more relevant candidate without changing our Whittier values of love for community. It will promote transparency and rebuild trust between local government and its voters.
WHY WE NEED TO CHANGE THE ELECTION DATE
The argument that vote-by-mail ballot is a substitution for fewer voting centers is flawed. Many residents move frequently and do not receive their ballot. A ballot can be misplaced, lost in the mail, damaged, not picked up by the mail carrier or in need of replacement due to a mistake which would creating the need to vote in person. More so, people are busy in their daily lives to remember to vote in the “off-cycle" Whittier election.
The ideal situation would be that the Council move to amend the Charter. It would reflect the City's commitment to expand opportunities for civic engagement and participation for all our residents. Not doing so, would force its residents to undertake the immense process of placing a measure on the ballot, costing the taxpayers an additional $10,000.00 for signature verification.
We have reached out and met with four city council members, and they refuse to agendize term limits, stating, “It's just not right for Whittier.” Mayor Joe Vinatieri said, “It's never gonna happen” referring to term limits. Councilwoman Warner said, “It's not my responsibility” referring to low voter turnout. Council member Dutra ignored our requests to meet with him.
The Cities of Pico Rivera, Commerce, Bell Gardens, Downey, and Montebello have all moved to place term limits and change of election date on the ballot for voters to decide, including some charter cities like Long Beach. All have overwhelming been passed by voters. We ask that you email your city council representative requesting they place the amendment to the city charter on the ballot, as every other nearby city has done.