At Riverside County Board of Supervisor’s Tuesday meeting, the Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s request to change its election years was approved without any discussion. Beginning in 2018, the election of IFPD commissioners will coincide with either presidential or California gubernatorial elections.
In April, the IFPD commission approved a resolution requesting that future elections be held in even-numbered years, a shift from the current pattern of August in odd-numbered years. The resolution requested the supervisors approve the switch from mail-ballot elections at the end of August in odd-numbered years.
According to Art Tinoco, assistant registrar of voters for Riverside County, this not an unusual request. “[Other] special districts are on the November even-numbered year ballot,” he said.
“[I’m] not sure if the change will have any large impact on the commission or it’s operations,” wrote IFPD President Jerry Buchanan in an email. “I do, however, believe that it will improve voter turn-out when held in conjunction with the general election. It will also eliminate the lengthy ‘lame duck’ period caused by the current August election and December seating of new members.”
The average number of Idyllwild registered voters casting ballots in the four general elections since 2008 was 1,310 compared to an average of 652 ballots cast in the past four IFPD elections. This August, commissioners Buchanan and Larry Donahoo, the commission vice president, were re-elected without an election since there were no challengers. Their new terms will be from December 2015 until December 2020.
The terms of three current commissioners — Rhonda Andrewson, Jeannine Charles-Stigall and Nancy Layton — expire in December 2017. Normally, they would stand for re-election in August 2017. According to state law, the change in the district’s elections will extend their terms one-year until the district’s first even-numbered year election, which would be November 2018, the same date as the next California gubernatorial election.
The delay between April when the commission approved the resolution and November, when the Board of Supervisors approved it, occurred within IFPD. Tinoco said, “The ROV did not receive the resolution until Sept.15, 2015.”
A letter explaining the change will be sent to registered voters within IFPD in the next few weeks, according to Tinoco.