The recent walkout of nine board members of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) highlights the ongoing frustration with the agency’s weighted voting system, which gives more power to the larger cities in the county. This system is a prime example of the kind of government overreach that conservatives have long decried.
The weighted voting system, which was introduced in 2018, allows representatives from just three jurisdictions—the city of San Diego, the county, and Chula Vista—to make up the majority vote on a board made up of 19 local governments. This means that the voices of the smaller cities are being diminished, and the ability of the board to work collaboratively is being undermined.
Critics of this system argue that it undermines the principle of one person, one vote, and that it is a clear violation of the principle of equal representation. This is a fundamental principle of democracy, and it is alarming to see it being disregarded in this way.
The walkout of these board members is a call for a return to the previous system, where a majority tally vote and a weighted vote were needed to pass items. This would ensure that all voices are heard, and that the board is able to work cooperatively to meet the needs of all residents of San Diego County.
It is also worth noting that this situation is taking place in an agency that is already plagued by a series of controversial audits and divided decisions over its long-term transportation planning. The large board turnover at SANDAG comes as the agency awaits the results of another audit and as its independent auditor, Mary Khoshmashrab, prepares to retire later this year. This further highlights the need for reform and accountability at SANDAG.
Conservatives believe that the weighted voting system at SANDAG undermines the principle of one person, one vote, and the principle of equal representation, which is a fundamental principle of democracy. The recent walkout of board members is a call for a return to the previous system, where a majority tally vote and a weighted vote were needed to pass items, in order to ensure that all voices are heard and that the board is able to work cooperatively to meet the needs of all residents of San Diego County.
Photo credit: Barry Jantz
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