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What a Week: Time to think redistricting

The Pleasanton City Council already has redistricting on its mind.

Maybe it's time we do too.

Jeremy Walsh, editor of the Pleasanton Weekly.

Redrawing legislative district boundaries takes place every 10 years based on population data collected in the new census. With the census count behind us and certification on the horizon, the redistricting process will play out over the next year.

In concept, the task is to determine the citizenry breakdown within the overall area and cluster sub-districts within based on near-equal population and fair regional representation.

Should be a straightforward process, right?

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Not so much. Arduous is more like it. And that's just the literal process of creating mathematically fair district maps -- let alone factoring in community boundaries and avoiding political influence.

Federal and state redistricting typically generate the most headlines, but local redistricting can be just as important (i.e. county supervisor, community college districts and added to the list in recent years, some city councils and school districts in the Tri-Valley).

We're fortunate to live in a state that, by and large, prioritizes less-partisan redistricting and anti-gerrymandering. Just look at California's current congressional district map compared to some other states.

That mindset tends to trickle down to the local level here as well, but ensuring it holds true each and every cycle depends on officials fulfilling their mission independently and residents paying close attention to the process.

Especially closer to home.

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As part of their consent calendar Tuesday night, Pleasanton council members unanimously adopted a resolution to publicly advocate for a fair redistricting process at the county level -- specifically, "asking the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to allocate resources to ensure an equitable, inclusive and transparent supervisor redistricting process."

The proposal was brought forward at the request of new Councilwoman Valerie Arkin in support of the grassroots Alameda County Coalition for Fair Redistricting.

"Really it's not saying anything about where lines are drawn, or anything like that. It's just: We want a fair and transparent process with community outreach," Arkin told her colleagues on Feb. 2 while pitching the proposal for consideration at the next council meeting.

The resolution confirmed Tuesday includes a 10-item wish list specifically for the county's redistricting process, simple requests that should be noncontroversial such as:

"1. Protect and maintain communities of interest."

"5. Includes accessibility approaches that remove physical, technological, language and other barriers to public participation including work schedules and family commitments."

"7. Includes meetings before and after the maps are created as well as at least two other methods/opportunities for engagement accessible for each of the five districts."

"9. Provide adequate funding and personnel to accomplish these goals in partnership with community volunteers."

The city of Pleasanton is well aware of the importance and implications of the county's redistricting process. In 2011, Pleasanton was split off from the rest of the Tri-Valley when it was reassigned from District 1 to Supervisor Nate Miley's District 4.

On the one hand, the move separated the typically joined Tri-Valley region, but on the other hand, it ensured Pleasanton interests had their own voice on the Board of Supervisors, unique from Dublin and Livermore -- which also meant Tri-Valley regional interests had two seats on the dais instead of just one.

We saw a similar situation with the San Ramon Valley 10 years ago in Contra Costa County.

I've been in the room to watch a county Board of Supervisors work through final district boundaries; it was a tedious and instructive process to marvel at, watching the push and pull with drawing lines sometimes all the way down to neighborhoods I'd been in, roads I'd often driven, all in the name of fair representation, mathematically and realistically.

I'll be watching the processes in Alameda County and Contra Costa County closely. You should as well, along with the U.S. Congressional, State Senate and State Assembly redistricting.

And remember all of those local agencies in the Tri-Valley that have switched to district-based elections in the past several years (city of Livermore, city of San Ramon, Dublin Unified, SRVUSD and DSRSD)? They'll have to redraw their sub-districts at some point soon too, based on new census data.

When each process plays out, it should be rooted in fairness, accuracy and transparency and devoid of undue influences.

That's where we should all draw the line.

Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.

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What a Week: Time to think redistricting

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Feb 18, 2021, 10:22 am

The Pleasanton City Council already has redistricting on its mind.

Maybe it's time we do too.

Redrawing legislative district boundaries takes place every 10 years based on population data collected in the new census. With the census count behind us and certification on the horizon, the redistricting process will play out over the next year.

In concept, the task is to determine the citizenry breakdown within the overall area and cluster sub-districts within based on near-equal population and fair regional representation.

Should be a straightforward process, right?

Not so much. Arduous is more like it. And that's just the literal process of creating mathematically fair district maps -- let alone factoring in community boundaries and avoiding political influence.

Federal and state redistricting typically generate the most headlines, but local redistricting can be just as important (i.e. county supervisor, community college districts and added to the list in recent years, some city councils and school districts in the Tri-Valley).

We're fortunate to live in a state that, by and large, prioritizes less-partisan redistricting and anti-gerrymandering. Just look at California's current congressional district map compared to some other states.

That mindset tends to trickle down to the local level here as well, but ensuring it holds true each and every cycle depends on officials fulfilling their mission independently and residents paying close attention to the process.

Especially closer to home.

As part of their consent calendar Tuesday night, Pleasanton council members unanimously adopted a resolution to publicly advocate for a fair redistricting process at the county level -- specifically, "asking the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to allocate resources to ensure an equitable, inclusive and transparent supervisor redistricting process."

The proposal was brought forward at the request of new Councilwoman Valerie Arkin in support of the grassroots Alameda County Coalition for Fair Redistricting.

"Really it's not saying anything about where lines are drawn, or anything like that. It's just: We want a fair and transparent process with community outreach," Arkin told her colleagues on Feb. 2 while pitching the proposal for consideration at the next council meeting.

The resolution confirmed Tuesday includes a 10-item wish list specifically for the county's redistricting process, simple requests that should be noncontroversial such as:

"1. Protect and maintain communities of interest."

"5. Includes accessibility approaches that remove physical, technological, language and other barriers to public participation including work schedules and family commitments."

"7. Includes meetings before and after the maps are created as well as at least two other methods/opportunities for engagement accessible for each of the five districts."

"9. Provide adequate funding and personnel to accomplish these goals in partnership with community volunteers."

The city of Pleasanton is well aware of the importance and implications of the county's redistricting process. In 2011, Pleasanton was split off from the rest of the Tri-Valley when it was reassigned from District 1 to Supervisor Nate Miley's District 4.

On the one hand, the move separated the typically joined Tri-Valley region, but on the other hand, it ensured Pleasanton interests had their own voice on the Board of Supervisors, unique from Dublin and Livermore -- which also meant Tri-Valley regional interests had two seats on the dais instead of just one.

We saw a similar situation with the San Ramon Valley 10 years ago in Contra Costa County.

I've been in the room to watch a county Board of Supervisors work through final district boundaries; it was a tedious and instructive process to marvel at, watching the push and pull with drawing lines sometimes all the way down to neighborhoods I'd been in, roads I'd often driven, all in the name of fair representation, mathematically and realistically.

I'll be watching the processes in Alameda County and Contra Costa County closely. You should as well, along with the U.S. Congressional, State Senate and State Assembly redistricting.

And remember all of those local agencies in the Tri-Valley that have switched to district-based elections in the past several years (city of Livermore, city of San Ramon, Dublin Unified, SRVUSD and DSRSD)? They'll have to redraw their sub-districts at some point soon too, based on new census data.

When each process plays out, it should be rooted in fairness, accuracy and transparency and devoid of undue influences.

That's where we should all draw the line.

Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.

Comments

Elated
Registered user
Harvest Park Middle School
on Feb 20, 2021 at 9:57 am
Elated, Harvest Park Middle School
Registered user
on Feb 20, 2021 at 9:57 am

Another great page 3 column - thank you Jeremy Walsh! I am so appreciative you could thoughtfully outline and inform us of the process and considerations related to redistricting, without lazily representing all as a death match between Democrats and Republicans. Modeling, expecting, and verifying our hopefully better instincts and shared beliefs as a community is so much more valuable than creating division - and I do mean creating. Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing the tone and flow of the Pleasanton Weekly back toward the trajectory Jeb Bing had established. I was thinking about cancelling my subscription for a time last year based on frustration I was having with partisan and frankly immature opinion being featured. I am so pleased with the new direction that I ensured my renewal today. I am once again looking forward to receiving the Weekly on Fridays, and opening to page 3 with interest, rather than cringing trepidation about what anti-political party rhetoric I was going to find. Interesting not to see an Opinion section this issue... that might be a great thing too going forward! Thank you Jeremy!


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