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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
Local

City of SunnyvaleCandidate for City Council, Seat 2

Photo of Josh Grossman

Josh Grossman

Tech Executive/Attorney
16,178 votes (43.94%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Campaign Finance Reform
  • Saving our Parks, Civic Center and Golf Courses from development or sale
  • Balanced Growth

Experience

Experience

Profession:Technology Executive/ Attorney
Chair Sunnyvale Housing and Human Services Commission, Sunnyvale Housing and Human Services Commission — Appointed position (2015–current)
Sunnyvale Building Code Appeals Board, Sunnyvale Building Code Appeals Board — Appointed position (2015–current)
President Horicon Elementary School District Board of Trustees, Horicon Elementary School District — Elected position (2008–2013)

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Liang Fang Chao -School Board Member
  • Michael Goldman--Sunnyvale City Council Person

Organizations (2)

  • Santa Clara County Democratic Party
  • South Bay Labor Council

Elected Officials (2)

  • Steven Scharf- Cupertino City Council
  • Jim Dewilder--Point Arena Unified School District Trustee

Individuals (1)

  • Andy Frazer --Sunnyvale Citizen

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Sunnvyale must move to district voting for elected offices

Summary

Sunnyvale faces a potentially costly lawsuit if it does not adopt district voting.

City Council Exposes Sunnyvale to Risk of Expensive Civil Rights Lawsuit

 

The Sunnyvale City Council has put Sunnyvale at risk of a civil rights lawsuit over the City’s voting system. At any moment, Sunnyvale could be thrust into a hurricane of events that could end with the City paying thousands, even millions, in attorney’s fees and costs because the Council is dragging its feet in moving to a district based voting system.

 

Sunnyvale is at risk under the California Voting Rights Act (“CVRA”) because it has a voting system requiring candidates to run for specific seats on a citywide basis.  This is called an “at-large” (i.e., city-wide) “numbered-seat” system. This is a suspect system under the CVRA. Sunnyvale’s voting system has been used in Southern states to prevent minorities from acquiring any influence in local government.  Sunnyvale is the only California city with this system. Santa Clara had this system until June. It changed because it was sued and lost..  

 

The CVRA makes it easy for a minority to sue a government that uses at-large voting. The CVRA prohibits the use of an at-large voting system if it results in racially polarized voting.  To show racially polarized voting a protected class person (a “PCP”) only has to show the voting system impairs the ability of a protected class to elect candidates or its ability to influence the outcome of an election. Elections Code (“EC”) § 14027.  The PCP does not have to prove intent to discriminate against a protected class. EC § 14028. The CVRA also requires the government to pay all the PCP’s legal and court fees if the PCP wins. EC § 14030. This includes cases which the government settles before a verdict is reached.

 

Let’s be clear.  Sunnyvale is now the target.  Again, Sunnyvale is the last California city with its voting system.  Civil rights lawyers have Sunnyvale in their sights. No city has won a CVRA lawsuit.

 

Under EC  § 10010 a Sunnyvale PCP can send a notice to the City asserting its voting system violates the CVRA.  The PCP then must wait only 45 days before filing a lawsuit.  To avoid the lawsuit, the City must within the 45 days pass a resolution stating its intent to move to district-based elections, the specific steps it will take to make this transition, and an estimated time frame for doing so.  EC  § 10010 (e)(3). If the City fails to pass the resolution, the PCP can sue the City.  If the City passes the resolution, the City then has only 90 days to move to district based elections.  If the City misses either deadline, the PCP can sue and Sunnyvale could face attorney fees and costs well into the six or even seven figures.  To avoid the lawsuit Sunnyvale would have at most 135 days from the PCP’s notice to move to district based elections.

 

Facing this risk, has the City Council moved with all due haste to enact a district based election system?  No. The Council instead has acted as though Sunnyvale faces no risk. On September 5, the Council directed City Staff to scope an outreach plan about whether to put a measure on the November 2020 ballot about moving to district-based voting some unknown time after that.  However, if a PCP sends a notice to Sunnyvale tomorrow, the City could be forced to move to district-based voting by Valentine’s Day, 2019.  To avoid that, the City Council must come up with a plan to move to district based voting before November 2020, and must do so quickly before it is forced to do that by an expensive lawsuit. Any other action would be irresponsible.

 

David Wessel is the Co-Founder of The Sunnyvale Democratic Club and a past president of that club as well as a bay area lawyer.

 

Josh Grossman is a candidate for Sunnyvale City Council Seat 2

 

Videos (2)

— September 22, 2018 Candidates Campaign

Introduction to Josh Grossman

— October 2, 2018 Josh Grossman for Sunnyvale CIty Council Seat 2

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