Newark to reconsider election years

The city of Newark could save as much as $115,000 by holding its elections in even years, according to a city staff report.

Newark’s next mayoral and council election is scheduled for November, making it the only Alameda County city holding elections in odd years. But the rising costs of elections might prompt Newark to change that. If the city goes it alone on Election Day, it would pay from $192,000 to $230,000, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters. But if Newark held the election a year later, in November 2014, its tab would drop to between $76,788 and $115,182.

The costs would be lower because Newark would split the bill with nine other cities and school districts in Alameda County, as well as other counties, the state and the federal government.

Councilman Luis Freitas requested last fall that staff employees start analyzing the benefits of switching. City Manager John Becker is scheduled to deliver a presentation on the issue to council members Thursday, but they are not expected to vote on it.

“When you look at the additional costs, I think it would be very difficult to continue with holding odd-year elections,” Becker said. “But we’ll see what the City Council says. Our recommendation is for them to discuss the item and provide any necessary direction to staff.”

Chris DeBenedetti


  1. They will not change the election date. They like it as is, that is off year elections where no one shows up to vote, except the politicians friends and relatives. This is how this lame council keeps getting re elected while Newark slowly sinks into oblvion !!!!

  2. I’m a little confused about the logistics of how they would do this. I don’t think it’s legit for an elected to tack on an extra year to his term even if the whole Council agrees with that decision. Also, as someone who was elected to a four year term, I would not volunteer to give up one of those years nor should I have to.

    I think the only solution would be to say that the 2013 election will be for a three year term that will be up for re-election in 2016. They would have to do this again in 2015 for the current Council members (and Mayor) that were elected in 2011. Then they’d be all set for even years only.

  3. Fair points, Vinnie. I’ll be at Thursday night’s council meeting in Newark to see what, if any, progress gets made on this issue. It’s been agendized as an informational item only, so no decisions will be made Thursday but I’m interested to see what Mayor Nagy and the other four council members say. Stay tuned.

  4. Fremont did it, they used to have there elections on off years, I believe they got the extra year, not sure?

  5. Jasper,

    I thought that too and I looked at the Fremont election history (link below). I did see there was an odd year election as recently as 1995. However, the document doesn’t address how that was dealt with.


    Feel free to look yourself. Maybe I’m missing something.

  6. Vinnie, when the city manager and staff undertake a study like this, is the time spent significant or is this just a few private meetings and a presentation to the council?

  7. Marty,

    I have no idea. I would imagine it’s a pretty simple proposal to go to the Council. You have to admit in the long run it will save money as being in the off year adds an extra election that Newark has to do on their own.

    The only reason I brought this up was that someone I spoke with had thought they could just tack on a year to someone’s term or make someone serve a shorter term. I strongly disagree with that. In my opinion, you have to respect that the voters elected someone to a four year term. Period. You can’t alter that. You can say that for the next election this term will only be three years (or five years).

  8. One more thing, I am assuming that a change like this to the election schedule does not require voter approval. The more I think about it I think that might not be the case. If so, something would need to be on this November’s ballot.

  9. Vinnie’s right on from a (current) procedural and (anytime) ethical perspective. Can’t know what I dont know about what’s legal (or not) on this one.

    But, when the only active electorate are completely supportive of this (potential) nonesense . . . . who’s going to complain?

    Media scrutiny COULD help – – but, to do so requires more than the usual broad brush treatment to get people fired up – and we certainly dont want that.

  10. Mayor Gus would know the details, I think He was the one pushing it, having the election on even years.

  11. State law allows a General Law city (Fremont or Newark) to change their election date, but they cannot decrease an elected term by moving the dates closer together. It is not unusual.

    Fremont has moved their election date three times in my memory. It was first in April of even numbered years, but filing for office happened over the Christmas holidays, so it was changed to March (I know that shortened someone’s term, but I have no answer to that) of even numbered years.

    Later it was moved (mid 80’s) to November of odd number years (like Newark) to coincide with FUSD elections. And then, in the early 90’s, FUSD moved their election to November of even years. Fremont followed.

    The cost of administering an election is certainly cheaper the more agencies are on the ballot, but the cost for a candidate rises because of the much larger universe of voters in the presidential or gubernatorial election. Based on voting history, in odd year elections, one can simply not spend campaign funds on those who will not vote.

    As for the cost of the study, probably pretty low. Simply look at the Government code and write a report. Most city attorneys or city clerks have a good handle on this issue.

    If I were a betting man, I’d bet they do it, simply because of the cost savings.

    But, what do I know?

  12. Just read Jasper #10. I don’t like the election in even number years and never pushed for it. I think all local, non-partisan elections should be in November of odd number years so there would be a focus on local issues.

  13. Gus,

    Thanks for this. But it doesn’t answer the question of how they switched in Fremont. Did they have an election in an odd year and say that term ends in an even year or vice-versa?

  14. No election, just a simple council vote to change the election date. And, as I recall, there was no public comment or concern either time we extended the term by moving the election.

  15. Well, I was wrong, they are going to even years. This will improve the voter turn out and hopefully improve the field of candidates

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