WSCUHSD releases draft voting area maps before first hearing
By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, November 6, 2021
The changeover from an at-large to a by-trustee voting area system in the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) is getting real, and quickly. The district released three draft voting area maps ahead of a first hearing, scheduled for Nov. 10.
In a by-trustee area system, the district would be divided into five zones for five trustees and candidates would be voted in solely by the voters living in the same zone, whereas voters anywhere in the district can elect any candidate to the board in an at-large system.
The district has passed the two “pre-map” public hearings seeking community input to inform the demographer hired to draw potential maps, and now those map options are available to view in hopes of getting community feedback.
The district plans to give the public chances to share their views over the next two months until the board comes to a decision in December. On Dec. 15, the board of trustees is scheduled to vote on a map to use during board elections coming in November 2022.
Mark your calendars
The first public hearing on the map options is fast approaching at the Wednesday, Nov. 10 board meeting. Superintendent Toni Beal provided this information to participate through Zoom: Zoom LINK, Meeting ID 965-8978-5559, Call In Number: 669-900-9128.
The second is scheduled for the Dec. 1 board meeting. To participate, community members can use: Zoom LINK, Meeting ID 965-8978-5559, Call In Number: 669-900-9128.
The third and final public hearing with the possibility the board may adopt a map is at the Dec. 15 board meeting, accessible through: Zoom LINK, Meeting ID 965-8978-5559, Call In Number: 669-900-9128.
Anyone unable to be at these meetings can send their comments to Administrative Assistant Karen Lamb at firstname.lastname@example.org and “all map preference feedback will be relayed to the Board prior to its discussion and adoption of a map option,” the district’s announcement said.
Superintendent says standards have been met
According to a notice from Superintendent Toni Beal, all of the draft maps are legal under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and meet requirements like ensuring each by-trustee voting area has an equal population, “with up to a 10% variance.” The zones are compact and contiguous as can be and they meet the Federal Voting Rights Act, as well.
In addition, the three maps all consider “communities of interest” and keep in line with “man-made and natural geographic features” to the extent that they can, Beal’s notice said. Under each map, the district’s biggest protected classes per Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) of eligible voters experience greater voting power “in at least one Trustee Area based on up-to-date CVAP statistics compared to district-wide averages.”
The point of the transition itself is to preserve the ability of protected classes to affect the outcome of an election. The WSCUHSD board trustees voted to shift to the new election system in February to shield the district from any legal action related to the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA).
It’s worth noting that attorney Jonathan Salt of Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP has stated that all trustees were legally elected to office and set to serve their full terms no matter where they live, but there will eventually be one trustee per trustee area over the coming election cycles.
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