City considers eliminating odd-year elections

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Limiting elections to every two years could save The City at least $3.4 million over that time period, according to a report from the controller’s office.

Not only that, but voter turnout would increase, said Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who has authored legislation that would place elections for city offices — including the election of the mayor — on the same ballot with presidential or gubernatorial elections.

“We know there are not enough people participating in a lot of different elections,” McGoldrick said.

About 20 percent more of The City’s voters turn out for presidential or gubernatorial elections than municipal elections, according to Andrew Murray, senior legislative analyst for the Board of Supervisors.

But more voters are not the most important goal for some board members.

“As much as there may be more voters voting, I like the fact that our local races are on their own dates. They get all the attention,” Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on McGoldrick’s legislation in July, and, if approved, it would come before city voters on the November ballot.

The legislation, which was voted out of committee on Friday without recommendation, would eliminate odd-numbered year elections after November 2009. The mayor, sheriff and district attorney, who will be elected in November 2007, would serve five-year terms, moving the next election for these city positions to November 2012. The city attorney and treasurer, who will be elected in November 2009, would also serve five-year terms, moving the next elections for these two positions to November 2014.

As for the cost-savings, Elsbernd pointed out that residents and the Board of Supervisors could call for special elections through petitions, which would then eat away any savings — something he said was likely if this law was adopted.

“I do want this to go to the November ballot. This should be decided by the voters of San Francisco. This is all about them,” McGoldrick said.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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