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Scott Thomas Wilk: You can have an impact on redistricting

Right Here, Right Now!

Posted: June 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

On June 10, the political establishment was rocked. That was the day the California Redistricting Commission in four separate 14-0 votes released its first draft of new boundaries for Congress, the State Board of Equalization, Senate and Assembly. 

For background, every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, the Legislature draws new political boundaries for Congress, the state Senate and Assembly.

But Proposition 11 and Proposition 20 removed that responsibility from the state Legislature and granted the authority of drawing new district lines to an independent body called, California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

The CCRC has had to follow mandates such as the federal Voting Rights Act, preserving communities of interest and creating districts with minimal population deviation.

The CCRC held more than 30 hearings across the state taking input from members of the public and organizations on how to draw these lines. 

Here is a quick look at the first draft of Santa Clarita Valley districts.

Congress: The CCRC separated a large section of Newhall from the rest of SCV and placed it in a new San Fernando Valley congressional seat. Under Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act, the CCRC is mandated to create what are called majority-minority districts — meaning a certain minority group needs to comprise a majority of the residents living in the district.

The commission drew two SFV districts constructed to be represented by Hispanics. It appears that to obtain the needed population, the commission came into Santa Clarita to make that happen. As for the rest of the valley, the proposed district is based in the SCV, and wanders west to Simi Valley and Moorpark, taking in Palmdale and portions of Lancaster to the east. Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, will continue to represent us.

Assembly: The SCV is kept intact (with the exception of Agua Dulce) and heads down the Interstate 5 and 405 Freeway to the 118 Freeway corridor, and picks up the affluent community of Bell Canyon. This is the seat of Cameron Smyth’s, who is serving his final term in the state Assembly. The SCV represents about 46 percent of the district.

State Senate: It’s a mess. The proposed lines start at Gorman and head south to Malibu and then proceed east to Westwood. I believe this district violates CCRC mandates including compactness and communities of interest. During the map-release news conference, two commissioners stated this district map will change radically. This will become a battle royale over how this district will be drawn.

The CCRC schedule gets accelerated from here. A second draft of maps will be released July 7, and a third draft will be released July 28, all culminating in the final certification of maps on Aug. 15. 

For certification, the commission must obtain a supermajority of nine of the 14 members. This is made tougher by the requirement that they also obtain majorities of each subset: 3-of-5 Republicans, 3-of-5 Democrats and 3-of-4 decline-to-state or other political party commissioners.  

How can you have an impact?

First, on June 22, the CCRC will be holding a public hearing at Oxnard College, Performing Arts Building, 4000 S. Rose Ave., Oxnard. The hearing is from 6 to 9 p.m. During the first round of meetings, the commission granted members of the public two minutes of testimony.

Second, a local grassroots organization, the Coalition of Suburban Communities for Fair Representation, is offering two online petitions. The first petition is to keep the SCV whole in a congressional seat, and the second is to support a state Senate map that links the SCV with eastern Ventura County (Simi Valley, Moorpark, etc.) in a Senate seat.

To learn about the Senate map or to sign the online petitions, log onto http://www.suburbancommunities.org/. (Your responses go directly to the CCRC.)

Finally, you can view all the state maps and make a public comment at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov. Just click on the box “Tell Us What You Think.” Or, if you have broader comments, they can be emailed to votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov or mailed to Citizens Redistricting Commission, 1130 K St., Suite 101, Sacramento, CA 95814.

The decisions made by the CCRC will determine who represents our community for the next 10 years.  This is truly democracy in action, and I encourage you to weigh in and have your voice heard.

Scott Thomas Wilk is a member of the California Republican Party and elected member to the Republican Party of Los Angeles County.

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