The final tally on the measure calling for district elections for the Santa Rosa City Council was 59.8 percent opposed, 40.2 percent in favor. In short, Measure Q got thumped. But take a closer look at the results and you’ll get a picture of politics in Santa Rosa.
There is no Berlin Wall, but if you draw a line along Highway 101 and Franklin Avenue, you’ll see a city of Ossis and Wessis.
Bill Steck, a member of last year’s charter review committee, plotted the precinct results for Measure Q. His color-coded maps – including the one below — put the line in sharp relief.
(Click on the map for a closer view.)
On the east side of Santa Rosa, where political power now lies, Measure Q lost in a landslide. In most precincts, the “no” vote ran far ahead of the citywide total. Opposition was strongest in Fountaingrove, with Oakmont not far behind. On the west side, it was a close contest. Measure Q got a majority in several precincts, and the “yes” vote ran ahead of the citywide average almost everywhere. Measure Q also scored well in the Junior College neighborhood, South Park and other neighborhoods around the fairgrounds and all along the Santa Rosa Avenue corridor.
A few other details stand out from Steck’s analysis. In the precincts strongly opposing Measure Q, the Latino voting-age population was less than 10 percent. It was 31 percent in the precincts where it carried a majority or near majority. There was a $23,000 difference in median income, and 56 percent of the voters in the strongest “no” precincts were over 55. In the precincts where Measure Q did best, just 38 percent of the voters were over 55.
The takeaway: Santa Rosa voters weren’t ready to change the election system in 2012, but the issue won’t go away. A voting rights act lawsuit is one possibility. Beyond that, demographic trends and city policies favoring growth in pro-Measure Q areas point to a different outcome at the polls within a few years.
- Jim Sweeney