The initial eight members of California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, chosen last month, meet for the first time today. Their first task: to choose the remaining six members of their group.
The first ever California Citizens Redistricting Commission is charged with redrawing boundaries for state legislative districts, US Congressional districts, and Board of Equalization Districts. The commission was voted into existence in June 2008 and affirmed in November 2010, in response to voter frustration with severe budget shortfalls, late budgets, gridlock, and failing infrastructure.
Today, the commissioners will choose a temporary chair and vice chair, discuss the procedures for selecting the remaining members of their team, and hear a briefing on California demographics. In addition, Steve Lynne, former chair of the Arizona Redistricting Commission, will talk with the group about his experience.
The current eight commissioners include:
- Vincent Barabba, former Director, U.S. Census Bureau; appointed by Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter
- Cynthia Dai, UC Berkeley academic; launched the Tsinghua-Berkeley Global Technology Leadership program
- Connie Galambos Malloy, urban planner, served five years on the board of Adopted & Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora; works for Urban Habitat
- Jodie Filkins Webber, litigation defense attorney; mentored incarcerated adolescents
- Stanley Forbes, former Davis City Councilmember; bookstore owner; family farm operator
- Elaine Kuo, worked as a caregiver for the last five years; former tutor for recent immigrants; Senior Research Analyst at UCLA
- Jeanne Raya,insurance broker; served on the San Gabriel Chamber of Commerce; former President, La Raza Lawyers of California
- Peter Yao, Councilmember, City of Claremont; former Director of Engineering, Raytheon
The final commission will include 14 members and must consist of five Republicans, five Democrats, and four independent, minority party, or decline-to-state voters.
California Forward advocated for the commission’s existence and worked to educate voters on the importance of redistricting to a fair and functioning system.
“It is important that the commissioners reflect the diversity of the state, and also possess strong analytical skills, impartiality, and the desire to work together to earn the trust of voters by drawing reasonable districts,” said Jim Mayer, Executive Director of California Forward. “The commissioners selected so far are a great start, and we strongly encourage them to fill the six remaining openings so the full commission is as representative and qualified as possible.”
The first eight commissioners are made up of 12.5 percent Latino, 50 percent Asian, 12.5 percent Black, and 25 percent White; as well as 62.5 percent women and 37.5 percent men.
The eight members meeting today were chosen at random on Nov. 18, in a lottery-style drawing, from a pool of 36 finalists. Those finalists were culled from 4,500 to 60. Legislative leaders then exercised their power, striking six names each, leaving 36 finalists.
The sitting commission members must choose the remaining members from the finalist pool, now at 28. The remaining six will be named by Dec. 17. The 14-member commission will then begin its work in Jan. 2011. Work must be completed by Aug. 15, 2011.
Malka Kopell is the redistricting implantation project director at California Forward.