Given new state-mandated redistricting rules, Calaveras County supervisors were to consider three choices in regards to redistricting:
a) Hire a consultant.
b) Establish a redistricting commission (committee).
c) Do it themselves.
The Board of Supervisors chose to do it themselves with the following results:
1. Districts must be made as geographically compact as possible while meeting an even distribution of population throughout the county. Rebecca Turner (Clerk to the Board of Supervisors) stated in public meetings that in order for a district to increase in population, the geographic area had to be increased; not mentioning shifting district lines in order to achieve adequate results. County Counsel, Sarah Edwards, was present and did not intervene to correct this/these statements that are misleading to the public. In the new map that the county is proposing, District 2 grows geographically as well as in population. This is not the intent of the new redistricting rules.
2. Districts must be drawn regardless of current supervisors. In the new map, each current sitting supervisor has drawn their own district to their own political ends, and three of those within a small geographic area.
3. Communities must not be divided. In the new map, San Andreas (a geographic designation and unincorporated town with a shared zip code) is divided in half, and the outskirts of Valley Springs and Angels Camp are given to District 2 to bring that district within the ‘minimum’ required population. Rancho Calaveras cannot be divided, as it is a community having its own designation.
4. A district must be competitive. District 2, in the new map, will remain an uncompetitive district as a minimum number of people are added, leaving the long-standing cabal remaining in control of elections.
5. Districts 3 and 4 are at the very upper limits of the population requirements, and those districts have the largest numbers of approved and under-construction housing developments and short term rentals that have been converted to primary residents. Considering the numbers, these two districts could explode in population within one to five years. Due to Covid, the number of people that have moved (covid shift) to these areas and have “not” been counted in the 2020 census is significant. And even though this redistricting is based on population, growth must be taken into consideration.
6. The three remaining districts (1,2 and 5) are “each” “significantly” smaller in population than each of Districts 3 and 4, and Districts 1, 2 and 5 don’t take cultural and physical geography into consideration (account).
7. The county departments have not contributed to how they would be impacted by such a map seeing as the board members continually lobby them. The roads and bridges( Public Works) has a greater number of road miles in District 2. The road mileage grows in the new map in District 2 even as the needs of an increasing and increased population in Districts 4 and 3 will see increased traffic and require greater services.
Since the participation due to Covid has impacted public input, the county has an ethical and legal obligation to establish the lines for communities of interest in order that they not be divided. The county has not even considered doing this.
The county also has an obligation to endorse a map that is legal, and the new map clearly is not.
Carlos “Carl” Stoughton