Everything You Need to Know about the 2016 GWNC Elections…but Didn’t Know You Should Ask

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Elections for the GWNC are this Sunday, May 1st from 12-4 pm at The Barking Lot366 North Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles, 90004. If you live, work, or own property in the Greater Wilshire area, you should vote in Sunday’s election.

What’s a GWNC?

The GWNC is the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, one of 95 such grass-roots neighborhood organizations throughout the city, founded to help represent neighborhood interests (including, but not limited to, land use and transportation issues) to our city council and other city agencies.  Neighborhood Councils also sponsor and promote a wide range of neighborhood improvement projects. For example, the GWNC has supported landscaping projects at John Burroughs, Wilshire Park, Frances Blend, Los Angeles High School and Wilshire Crest Elementary Schools, and historic preservation efforts in several neighborhoods. To learn more about the neighborhood council system, please visit the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment’s website.

The Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council has a 21-member board of directors, which is elected every two years by area stakeholders. 15 of the seats represent individual geographic areas within the larger Greater Wilshire neighborhood; five seats represent special interest groups such as Renters or Business, Religious, Educational and Other Non-Profit organizations.  There is also one At Large seat.

How does the GWNC differ from other local neighborhood groups, such as the Larchmont Village Association, the Windsor Square Association, or the Hancock Park Homeowners Association?  

The GWNC represents a larger territory, including Larchmont Village, Windsor Square, Hancock Park and 12 other local neighborhoods.  Each of those neighborhoods has a seat on the GWNC board.

When and where are the GWNC elections?

This year’s elections for all of the GWNC’s 21 board seats will be held on Sunday, May 1, from 12 to 4 p.m., at the The Barking Lot, 366 North Larchmont Blvd. (just north of Beverly Bl.), Los Angeles, 90004. [map]

Who’s running for the board?

The 37 candidates this year represent a wide cross-section of your neighbors, from all walks of life, who donate their time as volunteers to support and improve their neighborhood.  You can see the full list of candidates here.

I like everyone who’s running.  What happens to the candidates who don’t win?

In most cases, they’ll still get to participate.  In each race, the first-place finisher becomes the board member in that category, and the runner up becomes the new board member’s alternate, who gets to sit in when the board member is unavailable for meetings or votes.  In the races that have just one or two candidates this year, everyone running will end up with an official role.  Where there are more than two candidates, only two of the three (or more) registered candidates will be seated as Board Member and Alternate.

Who can vote in the elections?

Anyone who is at least 18 years of age and claims a legitimate stake in the neighborhood can vote for at least one seat in the election.  People who live, work or own property in the Greater Wilshire area may vote for two seats, one for their geographical area and one for a special interest group they have ties to.

Which seats am I eligible to vote for?

OK, this is where it gets a little tricky.

People who live, work or own property in the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area may vote for TWO candidates: The geographic representative for the neighborhood in which you live, work or own property… PLUS…one of the five special interest representatives (Renter, Business, Education, Religion, Other Non-Profit).  Or, instead of a special interest seat, you may also choose to vote for the At Large representative in addition to a geographic representative.

People who do not live, work or own property in the area, but who do meet the qualifications for one of the special interest categories (e.g. they are a member of a local religious congregation or have a child enrolled in a local school) can vote in that category ONLY, but not for any of the geographical seats.

People who do not live, work or own property in the area, and who do not meet qualifications for the Renter, Business, Education, Religion, or Other Non-Profit organization categories, but who do still claim any other stakeholder connection to the area, may vote ONLY in the race for At-Large representative…by affirming some other “factual basis” (e.g. receipts to show you shop at a local business) for their stakeholder status.

For more information on who can vote, and for which seats, please see the GWNC’s Voter Qualification Information.

How do I document my stakeholder status to vote for the candidates I’m interested in?

It depends on which categories you plan to vote in.

To vote for a geographic area seat, you must present proof that you live, work or own property in that specific area.  This can include a driver’s license, rental lease agreement, utility bill, paycheck stub, business card, mortgage statement or property tax statement showing your name and address in the area.

To vote for a special interest seat, you must show proof that you fit one of the special interest categories.  For example, renters must show a rental lease agreement or rent receipt.  Those voting in the Education category must show proof of their connection (as an employee, parent, student or ongoing volunteer) to a local school.  Those voting in the Business category must show a business card, business license, business rental agreement, advertisement, etc., showing their name and the name of their business…or their connection to a local business organization.  To vote in the Religion category, you must document your connection (with a membership card, pledge statement, business card, etc.) to a local religious organization.  And the same goes for a local non-profit organization, to vote in the Non-Profit category.

To vote for the At Large representative, any of the forms of proof listed above will do, as will documentation of any other kind of connection to the area, such as receipts that verify you shop at local stores.

For more information, please see the GWNC’s Voter Documentation information.

I am (or am not) already a registered voter – does that mean I can (or can’t) vote in this election?

The Neighborhood Council elections are unrelated to other city, state and federal elections, so it doesn’t matter whether you are or are not registered to vote in those elections.  You also do not need to be a citizen to vote in the GWNC elections.  You need only to meet, and document, the stakeholder requirements outlined above.  Also, you do not have to pre-register to vote.  Just go to the polling place on Sunday, with the documentation you’ll need to prove your stakeholder status in the categories for which you’d like to vote.

I’ve seen that other Neighborhood Councils have online registration and/or online voting. Does the GWNC have that?

No, you must register and vote in person for the GWNC elections.

Why is voting in this small election so important?

In addition to helping your favorite candidates win the seats they’re interested in, so they can best represent you for the next two years, voter turnout is one of the most important ways that neighborhood councils across the city demonstrate their importance to their stakeholders.  The bigger the turnout, the bigger the message we send to our city managers that people care about and are invested in their grass roots governance. If stakeholders don’t turn out to show they care, the neighborhood councils could easily disappear, eliminating one of the most important voices we have in city government.

OK, I’ll vote.  Is there anything else I can do to help?

Yes, how nice of you to ask!  There’s still time to volunteer as a poll-worker for the election (as long as you’re not one of the candidates running for a seat on the board).  Just complete the Poll Worker application at the LA City Clerk’s web site.

I still have some questions – what should I do?

You can visit the GWNC’s Election page , where you will find election-related information and links to various helpful documents.  You can also visit DONE’s GWNC election site.  Or send questions directly to the GWNC at election@greaterwilshire.org.

GWNC Elections
Sunday, May 1, 12-4 p.m.
The Barking Lot
366 N. Larchmont Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004

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