City Council members voted to extend their terms by 11 months to avoid a timing conflict between the next council election and the statewide presidential primary.
The next council election was scheduled for April, 1996. But state officials changed the 1996 primary from June to March, which would have put the primary only two weeks away from the next council election.
That would confuse voters and strain county services, city officials said. Manhattan Beach depends on county polling booths and other services to conduct council elections, and the county indicated it would have difficulty providing those services so close to the presidential primary, city officials said.
So the council voted unanimously on Tuesday to schedule the next election for March, 1997. Councilman Steve Napolitano said the vote to extend council terms probably would draw criticism from the community, but he said the decision was the best for the city.
Council members considered shortening their terms by five months and holding the council election in conjunction with the next school board election in November. But they said elections work more smoothly and voters can focus on key issues when they are held separately.
Three council terms, as well as the terms of the city clerk and city treasurer, will now expire in 1997.