Merced prepping for first election with the city's new districts

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- Election day is just a couple of weeks away, and sample ballots are quickly making their way to voters. But some voters in Merced will see something different-- a ballot to vote for one City Council Member that best represents their district.

"This year we've moved to a district-based election-- we have three districts up for election this year," said John Tressider, Deputy City Clerk.

The city made the decision to move to the district lines after receiving a letter a couple of years demanding they change their system. Tressider said a committee was chosen last year to draw the district lines.

"There was a concern the city wasn't represented fairly, that a lot of the population wasn't represented fairly. So the city took that under consideration."

A 2010 census of Merced shows Latinos make up 50-percent of the city's population. The other large groups include 30-percent of the population being white, 12-percent being Asian American, and 6-percent being African American.

With new districts, both city and county officials said this will help better voice the concerns of all these population groups.

"It gives them better representation," said Barbara Levey, Merced County Voter Registrar.

District one is up for election with four candidates, as well as district three with another four candidates, and district five with two candidates on the ballot.

Levey said she expects this election to be the biggest Merced has ever had. she also said voters should use their sample ballot to know where their polling places are and to plan their votes ahead of time.

"Use it as a tool-- mark it and bring it with them to the polling location so they're ready to go when they arrive."

Levey said there will be 3 polling locations that will handle any ballot type-- those will be in the Merced County Building, the Los Banos Community Center, and UC Merced.

City officials said there will be elections for district two, four, and five council members in 2018 when the term ends for three of the current councilmembers.

The vote for mayor will stay at large, meaning the everyone in the city will vote for the office of the mayor.
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