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News Updates

Council Vacancy Explained

On Oct. 9, City Council Member Barbara Hamilton resigned her District 1 seat. District 1 covers the oldest part of Carlsbad, including the Village and Barrio. She was elected in November 2018 to a four-year term that ends in 2022. When a vacancy occurs, the City Council has 60 days to decide how to fill it. Regardless of how the vacancy is filled, the person filling the seat would serve until the end of the term.

"District" elections

  • Hamilton was one of two City Council members last November to be elected under the new “by district” election system.
  • Carlsbad, along with dozens of other California cities, was forced to change to electing City Council members by district instead of citywide under threat of a lawsuit under the California Voting Rights Act.
  • This means that Carlsbad is split into four districts for the purpose of electing City Council members.
  • The mayor is still elected by the entire city.

What’s the latest?

  • On Oct. 30 a petition was submitted calling for a special election.
  • On Oct. 22, the City Council voted to use an appointment process to fill the vacant seat.
  • If the County of San Diego Registrar of Voters finds the petition sufficient, the City Council must schedule a special election.


  • The cost of a special election varies, depending on how many other items are on the ballot.
  • That’s because the County Registrar of Voters administers elections and charges the public agencies involved for the cost.
  • A March 3 election would cost Carlsbad between $7,500 and $19,500 because it’s a primary election with lots of other items on the ballot.
  • An April 14 election would cost between $175,000 and $300,000.

Want to know more?

City Council vacancy webpage
Get background on Carlsbad’s change to electing City Council members by district
See which district you live in
Read more about the laws related to filling City Council vacancies
Find out the details of how to circulate a petition
See the original announcement of Council Member Hamilton’s resignation
Notice of Intent to Fill a Vacancy by Appointment

Office of the City Clerk

October 29, 2019