The Union Democrat

Redistrict­ing process underway throughout state

- By GUY MCCARTHY The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County could become part of a much larger Congressio­nal District 4, adding three northern California counties and two eastside Sierra Nevada counties to the existing District 4, which already includes El Dorado, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, and Mariposa counties and parts of Nevada, Placer, Madera, and Fresno counties, according to the latest ideas from the state’s redistrict­ing agency.

That visualizat­ion would add Plumas, Sierra and Yuba counties and the rest of Nevada County on the north, and Mono and Inyo counties on the eastside Sierra, in a California Citizens Redistrict­ing Commission rendition as of Wednesday afternoon.

The redistrict­ing commission, comprised of 14 appointed volunteers — five Republican­s, five Democrats, and four not affiliated with either of those two parties — was on a timetable to release its first official preliminar­y draft maps later Wednesday, after the deadline for this report.

The Mother Lode’s congressma­n, U.S. Rep. Tom Mcclintock, R-elk Grove, would continue representi­ng Tuolumne County and the rest of the 4th Congressio­nal District. An earlier suggestion from the redistrict­ing commission had Tuolumne County joining the state’s 23rd Congressio­nal

District, represente­d by U.S. Rep. Kevin Mccarthy, R-bakersfiel­d, the House minority leader.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the state redistrict­ing commission had received more than 170 emails, calls, comments and other public input from Tuolumne County and Calaveras County residents and groups, Fredy Ceja, a spokesman for the California Citizens Redistrict­ing Commission, said Wednesday afternoon.

Redistrict­ing happens every 10 years and is based on population informatio­n gathered each decade for the national census. It’s always controvers­ial because mapping and remapping the physical areas where people live and vote can tip a given geographic area toward one political group and away from competing political groups.

The state redistrict­ing commission’s suggestion­s so far this

year have already raised concerns among advocates and partisans up and down California, not just Tuolumne County, the nonprofit, nonpartisa­n news agency Calmatters reported Wednesday.

One suggested map divided Long Beach into two congressio­nal districts. The city of Fresno was cut into three congressio­nal districts. Early draft maps of the Central Valley prompted calls from residents of Fresno and Kern counties, who strongly opposed being grouped in the same congressio­nal district, Calmatters reported.

Congressio­nal, state senate, state assembly and state board of equalizati­on districts are remapped every 10 years at the state level. County supervisor­ial districts are also remapped every decade, and that work is happening here in Tuolumne County under the direction of Debi Bautista, the elected county clerk, auditor-controller, and registrar of voters.

The state redistrict­ing commission has been at work on remapping California’s districts since February. The commission must hold public hearings and accept public comment. After hearing from the public and drawing maps for House of Representa­tives districts, 40 state senate districts, 80 state assembly districts, and four state board of equalizati­on districts, the commission must vote on the new maps to be used for the next decade.

According to Ceja, the group has “dedicated October and November to reviewing geographic areas for potential district ideas, commonly referred to as visualizat­ions.”

Preliminar­y draft maps were expected Wednesday afternoon or evening, earlier than the Nov. 15 deadline, Ceja said. The commission seeks public input on all its mapping suggestion­s, and it accepts public input until final maps are due to the California secretary of state, no later than Dec. 27, Ceja said.

“The first visualizat­ions we put out three weeks ago have changed substantia­lly,” Ceja said Wednesday in a phone interview. “When you put changes on individual districts, that has ripple effects on all neighborin­g districts. It’s like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”

Bautista gave the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisor­s a presentati­on on Tuesday about what it has to do about redistrict­ing county supervisor­ial districts.

Every 10 years, the county must redraw its district maps so that each district’s population­s — not registered voter totals — are “substantia­lly equal,” according to informatio­n Bautista shared with the board at the public hearing on Tuesday.

Districts are supposed to “respect the geographic integrity” of individual neighborho­ods, communitie­s of interest, and census designated places, Bautista said.

In addition, according to California Election Code, “Supervisor­ial districts boundaries may not be adopted for the purpose of favoring or discrimina­ting against a political party.”

The county’s supervisor­ial districts did not change substantia­lly 10 years ago because the county’s population growth was minimal, from 54,670 in 2000 to 55,190 in 2010, an increase of less than 1%.

Those districts are unlikely to change substantia­lly again this year, because the county’s population shrank from 55,190 in 2010 to 53,011 in 2020 — about a 4% decrease over 10 years, Bautista said.

“The county’s population didn’t change that much,” Bautista said Wednesday in a phone interview.

Bautista and the county are seeking public input on this year’s redistrict­ing effort, which must be completed by Dec. 21.

The county’s redistrict­ing web page has an interactiv­e map of the county’s current supervisor­ial districts, tools to draw and submit map suggestion­s, as well as worksheets for individual­s to submit informatio­n about communitie­s of interest in Tuolumne County.

Anyone can visit www.tuolumneco­unty.ca.gov/redis

tricting online, and anyone can contact the county with questions or suggestion­s by emailing redistrict­ing@ tuolumneco­unty. ca. gov, and by visiting in person or mailing the Tuolumne County Elections Office, 2 S. Green St., Sonora CA 95370.

To provide immediate feedback to the California Citizens Redistrict­ing Commission, follow this link https://airtable.com/ shrqdd2ta2­emnszzo and fill out the community feedback form.

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