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Publication Date: Friday, February 02, 2001

Council members question legislative objectives Council members question legislative objectives (February 02, 2001)

Pear, Ambra, Faravelli want to keep 2/3 majority

By Justin Scheck

When is a simple majority enough to reflect the will of the voter?

At a Tuesday night meeting, a rift in political philosophy on the city council became apparent as council members discussed the city's legislative objectives, and the issue of voting majorities.

The objectives, which are compiled by city staff to delineate the council's positions on legislation at the state and federal levels, sparked contention when Mayor Mario Ambra and council members Matt Pear and Ralph Faravelli expressed reservations about an objective that would have the council "support efforts to reduce the vote requirement for local bond measures from two-thirds approval to majority approval."

And while the council approved the legislative objectives, Ambra, Pear, and Faravelli voted against their adoption.

However, the council did vote to discuss the issue of the two-thirds vote in a study session.

In a Monday interview, Pear said he objects to lowering the two-thirds majority, and would like to see all legislative issues decided by a two-thirds majority.

"Better analysis is performed when you need to get a higher percentage of the vote," Pear said, adding that lowering the margin to a simple majority "means special interests can come in and pass a measure."

Faravelli said that, in Mountain View, the two-thirds majority forced the Mountain View School District's last bond campaign to formulate a measure that was "well put together with community input and community support."

Pear said that no matter what group is trying to pass a measure, he would want two-thirds of the public to approve any new legislation. "I'd make everything require voter approval of two-thirds... What you really have to ask here is, 'Is the simple majority fair to the other 49 percent?'" he concluded.

"It should be two-thirds, because that shows that people want it... 51 percent is not balanced, and does not show community support," Ambra said Wednesday.

Ambra said that items affecting individuals' taxation should require more than the simple majority.

But other council members disagreed with this.

"I've always been in support of a simple majority," said Council member Rosemary Stasek. We pass all of our legislation with a simple majority, and I don't think this should be any different."

Stasek said there is "a lot of community support" for a change in the two-thirds majority.

A study session to be held at a later date will provide a forum for the council to air their concerns about the issue of the two-thirds majority.

Juan Aranda, a trustee on the Whisman school board and Mountain View- Whisman merged school board said he would support a measure to get rid of the two-thirds majority.

"I'm all for that. I think anything that will make it easier for schools to get money is a good thing," Aranda said. 


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