By Ken Stone
The Grossmont Healthcare District on Monday unveiled draft maps for district-based elections and set a hearing next Monday to hear public views.
Following the lead of many other cities and public agencies, the East County district that acts as a landlord to Sharp Grossmont Hospital is moving away from at-large elections.
But under the proposals, none of the current board members would have to face each other.
“The board members are spread out enough geographically that none end up in any of the same zones shown in the three draft options,” said Barry Jantz, CEO of the 750-square-mile district serving more than 500,000 people.
He said board president Randy Lenac (serving though 2022) lives in Campo, with directors Robert “Bob” Ayres (2020) in Rancho San Diego, Gloria Chadwick (2022) in Dehesa, Michael Emerson (2020) in La Mesa and Virginia Hall (2020) in Santee.
The property-tax funded district also hands out $1.5 million in grants and scholarships every year, part of a $2.6 million annual outlay for community health efforts.
Each director is paid $100 a meeting, with a maximum of five a month — and Jantz says they regularly attend more than five, so their monthly compensation is $500.
On Monday, National Demographics Corp. will share details on the proposed zones. But the Grossmont board also will take comments in writing.
The March 4 hearing starts a little after the regular business meeting at 7:30 a.m. at 9001 Wakarusa St. in La Mesa. Members of the public can offer their own district maps themselves.
Grossmont Healthcare District has held three public hearings in recent months where the public was invited to provide input regarding the composition of the new zones.
In November, Voice of San Diego noted that six North County cities switched that year to district-based elections.
“Municipalities across California have been forced in recent years to change the way they elect local politicians,” said the news site. “That’s thanks almost single-handedly to a Malibu attorney who has successfully used the California Voting Rights Act to argue that Latinos are being disenfranchised in places with majority-white representation.
“Rather than risk millions of taxpayer dollars fighting the lawsuits, many cities have attempted to satisfy state law by carving the electoral map into districts rather than continuing to require candidates to run citywide.”
The GHD board may dodge the bullet of more than one director in any given district, but that wasn’t the case in the overlapping high school district.
In 2016, as a result of a switch to voting-by-district, Priscilla Schreiber was forced off the Grossmont Union High School District board.
So Schreiber ran in November 2016 for one of three seats on the Grossmont Healthcare District board. She took fourth behind three incumbents.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: