The Citizens Redistricting Commission has traveled the state asking the public to help draw maps for the House of Representatives, Senate, State legislature, and Board of Equalization districts.
At Oakland’s Laney College on Tuesday the group aimed to get down to the nitty gritty of precisely where those lines should be placed, by giving several organizations 15 minutes each to present their maps before the 12 commissioners present. Two of the most prominent Republican commissioners, Michael Ward and Jodie Filkins Webber, were not in attendance.
The commission saw a good representation of presenters, including the Sierra Club, the California Conservative Action Group, Young Professionals for a Better Government, and a brief presentation by the NAACP. However, commissioners had one complaint: This far into the map designation process, many commissioners said they expected these groups to bring far more detailed maps to the table.
Ken Kiesselbach, founder of Young Professionals, showed a video his group had created capturing redistricting opinions from everyday people, but commissioners told him that it wasn’t the point of the meeting. In fact, there was no public comment allowed at this particular meeting, unlike at previous gatherings. Even when groups did present a detailed map – as in the case of Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker of WARD Economic Development Corporation, or San Joaquin County Citizens for Constitutional Redistricting or SJCCR – some commission members wanted to see more.
“This map you’ve shown us is in a vacuum. This is in absence of a state map,” said Commissioner Michelle DiGuilio to the SJCCR. “I was hoping my county would come to the table addressing how it fits into the state as a whole. All of California’s other counties haven’t been able to present their specific county maps in front of us.”
However, Mark Robinson of the SJCCR said he felt it would be presumptuous to draw other regions’ lines because the group’s expertise, and passion is San Joaquin County.
“We’d like to have some representatives that live in our county. Our unemployment rate is over 17 percent and that’s an improvement over last year when it was higher than 18 percent,” said Robinson. “In fact, our unemployment is over 30 percent in some areas of our county, and we would like representatives to help us with this problem.”
The challenge for the group now, as it continues its meetings, is to combine every area’s specific needs and requirements into something the whole state can work with. For a complete schedule, and to view video from past meetings, go to the CCRC website.