2020 Ballot Initiative Would Give Voters Say Over El Camino Healthcare District’s Expansion

Workers battling the El Camino Healthcare District over its acquisition of five clinics and refusal to retain the 180 people who staff them want voters to weigh in on the expansion.

Healthcare workers this week filed for an initiative on the fall 2020 ballot that would ask voters to decide whether the district should add facilities outside its boundaries.

“This initiative is a matter of democracy and how the district needs to be accountable to voters and the millions of taxpayer dollars entrusted to them,” Sunnyvale resident and initiative proponent Andrew Barragan said in a news release issued this morning. “If the district plans to expand outside the community that created and supports it, it should get voters’ consent and reassure them that it synchs with the community’s values.”

The ballot initiative would ensure that the purchase or maintenance of facilities beyond district boundaries would be subject to voter approval. It would apply retroactively to all actions from Jan. 1 this year, including the $1.3 million acquisition of clinics in San Jose, Gilroy and Morgan Hill from the bankrupt Verity Health.

The sale is expected to close on April 1.

“The district is becoming less and less accountable to voters as the board of directors grows to include more unelected members,” Veronica Vides, another Sunnyvale resident and initiative backer, said. “El Camino is a community resource and we need to ensure that the community maintains control over it.”

More than a dozen elected officials have joined workers in urging the district’s board to keep the new clinics open without laying off any employees, including Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Ro Khanna as well as Santa Clara County supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Dave Cortese and San Jose councilors Magdalena Carrasco, Maya Esparza, Sergio Jimenez and Raul Peralez.

The El Camino Healthcare District spans most of Mountain View, Los Altos and the Los Altos Hills, the vast majority of Sunnyvale and small portions of Cupertino, Santa Clara And Palo Alto. Five elected members comprise its governing board.

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