County creating redistricting commission
By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, February 27, 2021
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors announced earlier this week that it’s establishing a 15-member commission to aid the supervisors in redrawing supervisorial district boundaries, once it receives results from the 2020 Census. Those who are interested in applying to join the commission, which is expected to start meeting in May, have until March 23 to fill out an application.
Shifting the boundaries of the county’s five supervisorial districts is required following every 10-year census in an effort to keep district boundaries roughly equal in population.
According to a press release from the county, it’s expecting to receive census data in September, following a pandemic-induced delay. Data was originally slated to be released on March 31. Trying to solicit applications from people interested in being on the commission so early in the process will allow staff to prepare and train the commission, the county’s announcement states.
“We are inviting individuals who have a passion for civic engagement to apply to serve on this commission,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, chair of the Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “With your help, we will create a citizen empowerment process to use the census data to redraw the supervisorial district boundaries with a focus on equity.”
The Advisory Redistricting Commission will have 15 members — 10 of which are district appointees with two per district, and five that are at-large positions. The commission is intended to have “broad representation that reflects the geographic, demographic and cultural diversity of Sonoma County,” the application for a commission seat states.
Other criteria that will be considered for representation include geographical area, race and ethnicity, age group, access and functional needs, and industry/sector (e.g. environment, agriculture, business, labor/workforce, social justice, nonprofit). Sonoma County elected officials, or their family members, their staff members or paid campaign staff of an elected official are not eligible.
The term for commissioners is nine months, with the first meeting in July. Currently, the new district maps have to be concluded by Dec. 15, 2021.
Those interested in applying for a seat on the commission can do so here.
What criteria will the county use when drawing district lines?
According to the frequently asked questions on the county’s website about redistricting, “To the extent practicable, district lines will be adopted using the following criteria:
● geographically contiguous districts (each supervisorial district should share a common border with the next),
● the geographic integrity of local neighborhoods or communities shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division,
● geographic integrity of a city shall be respected in a manner that minimizes its division,
● easily identifiable boundaries that follow natural or artificial barriers (rivers, streets, highways, rail lines, etc.), and
● lines shall be drawn to encourage geographic compactness. In addition, boundaries shall not be drawn for purposes of favoring or discriminating against a political party.
This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com