11/18/2010 by Gina Baleria

Citizens Redistricting Commission takes shape

The first eight of 14 commissioners for the California Citizens Redistricting Commission have now been chosen.

This morning, California State Auditor Elaine Howle drew the names of the lucky eight, using numbered bingo balls, one representing each person in the pool of 36. She drew the following names:

  • Jeanne Raya, Democrat from Los Angeles County
  • Elaine Kuo, Democrat from Santa Clara County
  • Cynthia Dai, Democrat from City and County of San Francisco
  • Jodie Filkins Webber, Republican from Riverside County
  • Peter Yao, Republican from Los Angeles County
  • Vincent Barabba, Republican from Santa Cruz County
  • Stanley Forbes, Decline-to-State from Yolo County
  • Connie Galambos Malloy, Decline-to-State from Alameda County

State Auditor Howle called the day “historic” and thanked all organizations and individuals who helped the Auditor’s Office get to this point.

“We are pleased with the caliber and dedication of the individuals who have asked to serve on this commission”, said Malka Kopell, Redistricting Implementation Director for California Forward. “Today marks another important step in what has been an extremely transparent selection process to date.”

The next step of the process is for the eight individuals above, through deliberation in public meetings, to choose six additional commissioners (two Democrats, two Republicans, and two not registered with either of the two major parties) from the remaining finalist pool of 28. They must make this decision by Dec. 31, 2010 and will consider racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity. More information (including a videotape of today’s drawing of names) can be found on the Auditor’s website at http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/.

The independent panel ultimately will consist of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independent or minor-party voters. Each panelist will be paid $300 per day.

When the process began, 31,000 people initially applied to become part of this critical team.

The commission is charged with redrawing the boundaries of California legislative, congressional, and Board of Equalization Districts. This activity takes place once every ten years, following the completion of the Census. Commissioners must have all political maps redrawn by August 15, 2011.

The commission must draw political districts that are geographically contiguous and must respect, to the extent possible, boundaries of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities of interest, which can be racial, coastal, agricultural or other blocs with common interests.

The 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission was born out of Proposition 11, passed by voters in 2008, in response to voter disapproval over lawmaker gerrymandering of districts to ensure reelection and protect incumbents. It was originally charged with redrawing the boundaries for legislative and board of equalization seats. In 2010, Proposition 20 added congressional districts, as well.

In the past ten years, only one of 53 congressional seats, and none of 120 legislative seats, has changed hands.

Gina Baleria is the communication manager at California Forward. 

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