State and federal legislation set out the parameters for redistricting—the identification of a geographic area from which members of the House of Representatives, California Senators and Assemblymen and county supervisors are elected—done every 10 years once census data is processed. Or, as Mono Supervisor Bob Gardner bluntly defined the process “it’s a real snorer.”
But, Mono’s IT Director Nate Greenberg has given the community input requirement a new perspective—it’s now a video game. Greenberg has designed a website that will go live October 1. The site, highlighted on the County’s webpage, allows residents to see the current supervisorial district boundaries and re-draw them. The only caveat is each of the five districts should be close to one-fifth of the County’s population. The magic number is 2,639, but the realistic goal is to have five districts with no more than a 10-percent population variant.
While Mono County covers a lot of real estate, much of that real estate is unpopulated. Those unpopulated areas are indicated as such on Greenberg’s mapping page.
Once the raw data is fed into the website (at the end of this week), locals can go to the site, draw their ideal districts and see the potential population and ethnicity of each district.
According to Greenberg, the adjusted population data will be available and fed into the mapping webpage at the end of October, though no significant changes are anticipated.
At Tuesday’s Board meeting, Supervisors grappled with the concept of communities of interest and how to reach them. Christie Milovich, assistant county counsel, explained those communities include Latinx populations or could be based on social and economic issues. “We look at three things,” she said, “mutual interests, why they should be kept together and their geographic location.” The one thing that can’t be taken into consideration is the community’s political party.
The Board has laid out a calendar of the required public hearings and mapping reviews that runs through December 15. Two public hearings have already been held, the third and fourth are slated for the October 19 and November 2 Board meetings with a review of the alternative district maps. The fifth and final hearing and map review is scheduled for November 8 in a yet to be determined location, but can also be attended virtually.
The Board will make its final decision on supervisorial districts at its December 15 meeting.
Why is redistricting important? The process re-examines populations with the goal of giving voice to all segments of that population. America had to work through that process over its history. At one point, districts were drawn to break up communities with specific backgrounds to dilute the votes of some in a process called gerrymandering. It started with the Irish and southern Europeans and grew to include communities of color–black, brown and Asians.
The purpose of the virtual mapping process is the opposite of gerrymandering allowing communities of interest to have a strong voice in determining their Mono Supervisor.