About New County Districts

An early deadline and limited space meant that your coverage of the county redistricting ordinances left out a few key points.

Reason in Government (RIG) gathered enough signatures so that its redistricting commission proposal will be on the ballot in November, regardless of its quality. Its weaknesses and omissions prompted Supervisor Williams to introduce a model Citizens’ Independent Redistricting Commission, which offers a better thought out and more comprehensive approach. And — the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 (yes, unanimously) to move forward with it, which speaks volumes.

The key differences between the Citizens’ Independent Redistricting Commission and the RIG initiative are as follows:

While the RIG initiative only requires that a commissioner be registered to vote and live in the county, there are more substantial requirements for those wishing to serve on the Citizens’ Independent Redistricting Commission, including a history of actually voting, and demonstration of analytical ability and diversity through an application process. These are critical qualities necessary to the complicated process of drawing district boundaries.

Further, its commissioners must represent the county’s diverse population and its voter registration.

As with RIG’s initiative, they must not have active political and financial ties to parties and candidates, but the Citizens’ Commission also prohibits large vested financial interest in local corporations.

Provisions are in place to remove commissioners where they violate the terms of the ordinance (absent from the RIG initiatiave).

There are far more requirements and opportunities for public input into proposed district maps, and a larger number of commissioners must approve of any final district maps, since the Commission would be composed of 11 members (RIG’s has only five, and since their initiative doesn’t define its quorum, it could conceivably rest on two commissioners).

While the RIG initiative seems to be entirely self-invented, the Citizen’s Independent Redistricting Commission borrows heavily from both the state redistricting commission and from Los Angeles and San Diego’s commissions, drawing on their successes.

If we are going to have a redistricting commission, we should do it right. That’s what five County Supervisors ultimately decided on July 3.

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