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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of El Cajon
Measure S Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


18,671 votes yes (69.16%)

8,327 votes no (30.84%)

Do you approve amending Section 201 of the City of El Cajon Charter to require election of City Council members by geographic districts in which they reside beginning with the general municipal election to be held in 2018?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure


El Cajon City Attorney

In compliance with state laws this measure was placed on the ballot by the City Council of the City of El Cajon and requires approval by the voters.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

El Cajon City Attorney

The City of El Cajon is a charter city and Section 201 of the El Cajon City Charter provides the manner by which the Mayor and Council Members are selected by the voters. Currently, the Mayor is elected directly by all voters in the city every four years, and the Council Members are elected “at large,” meaning that all voters throughout the city choose from among the qualified candidates living anywhere in the City, each serving a four year term.

This proposed measure would amend Section 201 of the El Cajon City Charter, eliminating the requirement for at large elections and replacing it with a requirement that the four Council Members shall be elected from districts in which they reside, solely by the residents of that district, beginning with the general municipal election in November of 2018.

This proposed charter amendment does not create specific districts or establish procedures for implementation of Section 201 at this time. If this proposed amendment is approved by the voters the City Council will, with input from the public at various open and public meetings, develop and adopt an ordinance to implement district elections and approve the initial boundaries for the four districts, all of which will be in compliance with state and federal voting rights laws. The initial district boundaries are subject to change as necessary at any time but at a minimum they will be re-evaluated and, if necessary, re-drawn following each 10-year United States census beginning with the 2020 decennial census. This measure will not shorten any term of office or change the number of Council Members.

If the proposition is approved, district elections would commence in 2018 for one of the council seats and 2020 for the remaining three council seats.

In compliance with state laws this measure was placed on the ballot by the City Council of the City of El Cajon and requires approval by the voters.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure S. If you desire a copy of the ordinance or measure, please call the elections official’s office at 858-668-4530 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR



My name is Bill Wells. I have had the pleasure to serve the City of El Cajon as a City Councilman and as your current Mayor. I believe we have made great strides in improving El Cajon. Our streets are safer, our downtown is vibrant again, and we have made El Cajon a destination for new businesses. New car dealerships, 4-star hotels, and a new hospital are all coming to El Cajon in the coming years. These new amenities will bring news jobs along with improved goods and services for the residents of our city.

Today I am asking for your support on a very important issue facing our city, district elections. Your City Council has enthusiastically and unanimously pledged its support for Measure S and we are asking for your support for the good of the city and all its citizens.

Measure S will create 4 voting districts for the City of El Cajon. Each district will elect its own City Councilmember. Individual districts will allow each Councilmember to focus their attention on their own neighborhood within the city. It will give individual citizens improved access to their elected representative. It will empower residents by making sure their collective voice is heard through an elected representative who lives in their neighborhood.

We have unanimously voted to place Measure S on the ballot to give the citizens of El Cajon more local control over their government. We, along with citizens, community leaders, business owners, and the East County Chamber of Commerce, urge you to vote Yes on Measure S.


Mayor, City of El Cajon

Trustee, Grossmont Union High School District

CEO, San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce 

— San Diego Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST



Conversion by cities in California to district elections is supposedly justified in order to comply with the California Voting Rights Act, which enables voters to "elect candidates of their choice in local elections."

A significant effect of this conversion has been largely ignored: it deprives 100% of voters of their choice of candidates. Before the conversion, there are four councilmembers who have equal power over all areas of the city. All voters can vote for or against all four. But under District Elections, while the four council members continue to have power over all areas of the city, voters can vote for or against just their own district member. That district member would constitute just one vote out of five on the full council (including the mayor), and fall short of the three votes needed to pass any legislation

Voters would therefore be stripped of 75% of their voting power over councilmembers. That would seem to be a blatant violation of the CVRA. The Ballot Measure should be amended to include a statement that under District Elections, voters can vote only for their local council member. If the City deliberately omits that provision, it would seem to involve the City in "advocacy," instead of just proving information. State law prohibits cities from spending money advocating a ballot measure.



— San Diego Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR



Mayor Bill Wells states that the requirement that the four councilmembers must live in the district they represent will allow each member "to focus their attention on their own neighborhood," and would "empower residents" by ensuring their voices are heard by a "neighborhood" representative.

Those positive features are not applicable to El Cajon, because of its small size. Chula Vista, which is now in the process of converting to district elections, consists of 52 square miles, and a population of nearly 257,000. El Cajon is just 14.4 square miles, with a population of about 100,000.

If a Chula Vista councilmember has difficulty "covering" 52 square miles (with widely-separated neighborhoods), it would certainly be an advantage to manage just one-fourth of the city; i.e., roughly 13 square miles). Why then can't each of the four El Cajon councilmembers "cover" 14.4 miles? One-fourth of that size would be just 3.6 square miles. It should be noted that councilmembers receive a monthly car allowance of $450, which they should give up if Measure S passes.

As stated in my argument against the measure, voters would not be empowered, but would lose 75% of their voting power over the city council.



— San Diego Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST



Measure S, which has strong bi-partisan support within the El Cajon community, is about improved Localized Neighborhood Representation. It will allow our City Councilmembers the opportunity to focus on getting to know their neighbors and vote on issues based on how it will affect the neighborhoods they live in. Measure S will guarantee El Cajon citizens that someone who actually lives in their neighborhood will represent them in government.

A position on the El Cajon City Council is a part time job, but one that comes with full time responsibilities. Councilmembers have to analyze and as a group arrive at a consensus vote on complex issues based on what is right for El Cajon. Passing of Measure S will allow Councilmembers to focus on how each issue affects their neighborhood and will ensure that every citizen will have an improved opportunity to have their voice heard on El Cajon City Council decisions.

Please join your fellow citizens, community leaders, business leaders, and the East County Chamber of Commerce in support of Measure S. Let’s make El Cajon a better community.


El Cajon City Councilmember

Heartland Fire Chief (Retired)

Superintendent, Cajon Valley USD

Police Captain (Retired)

— San Diego Registrar of Voters

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure S

Organizations (2)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure S
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

More information

News (4)

El Cajon moves ahead on ballot language for Prop S — September 15, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
El Cajon holding meeting about district elections — August 1, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune
El Cajon Council to discuss district elections — July 13, 2016 San Diego Union-Tribune

Events (3)

Contact Info

Yes on Measure S
City of El Cajon District Elections Information
No on Measure S
Not available.
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