Jun 11, 2011 12:53 AM by Kathy Kuretich
Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties may soon become part of the same congressional district.
Friday, we got our first look at new redistricting maps of the Central Coast.
They were released by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission... a 14 member panel made up of five Republicans, five Democrats, and four who declined to state their political affiliation.
The commission was established in 2008, after voters approved a citizens-led panel. California is the only state in the nation to district its political boundaries this way.
The new district will combine all of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties with part of northern Ventura County. Currently, three congressional districts represent the two counties. The 22nd district covers only part of San Luis Obispo County, the 23rd district runs along the coast, and the 24th represents part of Santa Barbara County.
"I'm happy that the commission has said enough of that gerrymandering, let's make it whole, lets make it united, so San Luis, Santa Barbara, I'm feeling good about it.>
Former Lieutenant Governor and Santa Maria native Abel Maldonado is running for congress against incumbent Representative Lois Capps in this newly formed district. He thinks it brings more competition.
"The 23rd district was probably the most gerrymandered district in the whole country, not in California, in the country," said Maldonado. "I'm happy that the commission has said enough of that gerrymandering, let's make it whole, lets make it united, so San Luis, Santa Barbara, I'm feeling good about it."
A member of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Andre Parvenu said the commission heard thousands of public comments before they began the redistricting process. He said they must follow strict federal laws when creating the maps, including the Voters Rights Act which outlaws discrimination of minorities.
"It prohibits redistricting plans that result in members of a certain race or protected language minority group having less opportunity, said Parvenu.
They also took into account population growth from the 2010 census which shows increases in Hispanic populations throughout California. Another requirement, Parvenu said is creating districts that are equal in population, contiguous, and respectful to neighborhood and county borders. He said the new boundaries will bring more competition among candidates.
"We went into this totally blind to personalities of politicians. their backgrounds, or their record of incumbency, so there's definitely going to be some changes," said Parvenu. This was the first draft of new district maps. After a second round of public comment, the commission will issue their final draft to the Secretary of State on August 15th. The commission will be hearing feedback at cities throughout the state. They'll be in Oxnard on June 22nd, and Fresno on June 23rd. Their website is www.wedrawthelines.com
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