Elections by Division
Desert Water Agency will transition from at-large to division elections with the first division election occurring in November 2020.
The Board of Directors unanimously approved a map on July 16 which breaks the service boundaries into five divisions and kick-starts the transition.
DWA currently has an at-large system that allows customers to elect all five members of the Board of Directors. Elections by division - also referred to as districts - apportions the service area into five divisions with customers voting only for candidates from within their own division. Until the first division election in 2020, all board members will serve at-large representing the entire service area.
The move to voting by division avoids a potentially costly lawsuit. Various Coachella Valley cities and school districts have moved to district elections in recent years for similar reasons.
To assist in the process, DWA hired National Demographics Corporation, the firm that did work for Palm Springs and Cathedral City in their districting efforts.
Maps (draft proposals presented to the Board)
Draft A packet
Draft B packet
Draft C packet
Draft D packet
Draft E packet (revised)
Draft F packet
(The Board approved this map on July 16)
Interactive Division Map Tool
Hearing schedule (Various hearings were held prior to adoption)
July 16 - 8 a.m., Desert Water Agency, 1200 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs
April 15 - 10:30 a.m., Carl May Community Center, 11711 West Drive, Desert Hot Springs
April 16 - 8 a.m., Desert Water Agency, Palm Springs
February 5 - Desert Water Agency, Palm Springs
February 19 - Henry V. Lozano Community Center, Desert Hot Springs
FAQs on Transition
Click on each question to see the answer.
Why is DWA considering the transition now?
Desert Water Agency received a letter from a law firm compelling us to voluntarily change our system from at large to by division before being sued. This law firm has sent many such letters and sued various cities and agencies. Each time the city or agency has had to change its election system voluntarily or risk a lawsuit that it would almost certainly lose. Those who went through lawsuits spent a great deal of money on legal fees and none have been successful in retaining at-large elections.
Is DWA being sued?
Desert Water Agency is not currently being sued but is being asked by a law firm and its client to voluntarily change its election system. The Agency believes that there is a strong chance of being sued if it does not make the change.
How will this change affect me?
Voters will only get to vote for one representative who resides in the same division within the Agency’s boundaries. Voters will only have the opportunity to vote for DWA Board member every four years. Despite being in divisions, all of the Agency’s Board members will still be obligated to serve the best interest of the entire Agency.
Were past DWA elections unfair?
At-large elections have always been an acceptable, democratic approach across the United States. The California Voting Rights Act and court cases that followed have made at-large elections nearly impossible to maintain.
Will the Agency get new Board members?
With five new divisions some of the current Board members may have to run for a single seat in a future election. Two of the five seats on the Board are up for election in 2020, Divisions 4 and 5. The remaining three seats, Divisions 1, 2 and 3, will be up for election in 2022.
How can I share my input in this process?
Desert Water Agency held public hearings to gather input before work began on maps and hosted additional hearings after the demographers draft map options. For more information on the public hearings, please visit www.dwa.org/divisions.
Who is developing the division maps?
National Demographics Corporation (NDC) developed draft map options. NDC did work in the districting of City of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Desert Healthcare District, and many others.
Why are you using 2010 Census data?
We are required to use 2010 Census data until 2020 Census data is available. The divisions will be redrawn at that point to account for growth and demographic trends.
Where are the maps that show the divisions?
Draft maps were made available in the spring. Please visit www.dwa.org/divisions to review public hearing materials and draft maps.
When will there be elections for the new divisions?
Desert Water Agency elections are in every even year. The next elections will be in November of 2020 for two of the five seats on the Board. In 2022, the remaining three seats will be up for election.
Will the agency fight to keep its current election system?
Desert Water Agency’s Board adopted a resolution of intent to transition to a by-division election system on February 5, 2019.
Presentation on division elections video
Presentation on division elections video (continued)
Public Hearing video in Desert Hot Springs
Meeting/public hearing minutes - February 5, 2019
Special meeting/public hearing minutes - February 19, 2019
Press release on map adoption - July 16, 2019