On Monday October 31st, the City of Sunnyvale received its final bill from the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters for the cost of our August Special Election to fill one council seat for three months:
That’s not a typo. In the next week, Sunnyvale will spend some $800k out of our General Fund to pay this bill, using money that would otherwise pay for public safety, roadwork, parks, and library services. Nobody wanted to hold this special election, but Sunnyvale’s voters passed a law that, however well-meant, prohibited all City Council discretion in the matter. So instead of just leaving the seat vacant for three months until the November General Election, we were forced to burn through some $800k of funds meant for city services to hold a special election.
There’s a lesson here that Sunnyvale will hopefully learn – requiring decisions to be put to voters instead of letting the City Council make obvious choices can be very, very expensive.
This is exactly why so many of us have organized to defeat November’s Measure M.
There have been a lot of accusations tossed around regarding Measure M, and they’re mostly false. There are no plans or discussions about selling off our parks – our City Council has done more to increase Sunnyvale’s park space in the past four years than in all of the 25 years beforehand (mostly by quadrupling developer fees). There are no plans to sell off or lease our Civic Center – our City Council voted 7-0 not to pursue that after our City Manager did her homework and informed us that it would cost Sunnyvale much more than it’s worth. Our golf courses aren’t threatened – that’s total fiction. And developers aren’t banging down Council’s doors trying to grab our public land – they’re doing just fine by focusing on private land.
Instead, the reason for opposing Measure M is very simple:
- Elections and ballot measures are very expensive – $800k for a special election, $80k for the first measure on a ballot, $41k for each additional one.
- Measure M removes the City Council’s discretion and requires a lot of elections and ballot measures just to maintain current city operations, because it was so poorly written.
- This is money that we really want to spend on city services and not on unnecessary elections.
- These are important decisions that often cannot wait up to two years until the next election.
And this $800,000 bill that we just received is direct and very painful evidence of what we are trying to avoid by opposing Measure M.