SAN LEANDRO MAYOR IS WORKING WITH HONOLULU CITY COUNCIL TO THWART RCV ON THE ISLAND
By Steven Tavares
For whatever it means, there is a common refrain among opponents of ranked-choice voting across the country. Most like former San Leandro mayor Tony Santos were for it before they were against it and paid the price.
Santos lost last November’s mayoral election despite winning more first-place votes than the eventually winner Stephen Cassidy, who earned just over 35 percent of the vote. It was the former mayor, though, who was the unique voting system’s top proponent and the sting of his defeat at the hands of it has transformed Santos into an active member of the revolt springing up in various locales across the nation.
After claiming victory for his efforts to stop the Colorado city of Fort Collins earlier this month from approving RCV, Santos has turned attention to his birthplace—Hawaii—to aid the Honolulu City Council in stopping the state House of Representatives from approving a bill to bring RCV to county elections.
The Honolulu City Council Thursday unanimously approved a resolution against the legislation which will be heard in committee hearings Friday morning.
Santos has become involved in stopping RCV in his home state since January. He sent the city council an open letter then saying, “I was born and raised on the Island and still have many relatives on the Island. As someone from Honolulu, I would not want to subject them to instant runoff voting.” He has plans to visit Hawaii in the near future to step up efforts against RCV.
Many of the same criticisms voiced by detractors in the Bay Area cities which employ variations of ranked-choice voting—San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro—namely, the potential confusing of voters, infringement of voting rights and initial start-up costs exist among some in Honolulu.
“It’s a huge infringement on the long established concept of home rule and an assault on our democratic form of government in clear violation of the Constitutional principle of one man-one vote,” said Tom Berg, a newly-elected Honolulu city councilman. “It’s also an unfunded, discriminatory mandate on just two of our four counties during a time of scarce resources.”
The story is also tinged with rumors the bill hoping to adopt ranked-choice voting is part of a political vendetta against Berg and a Hawaiian congressmen, both recently elected in special elections.