From the Alameda County Coalition for Fair Redistricting
The last meeting in which to make your voice heard Will be December 2d at 6pm.
On November 16th, the Alameda County Supervisors unanimously voted to remove all but one visualization (proposed map) from consideration in their redistricting process. This “Map A” is very similar to the current district boundaries, with few changes.
Whatever your opinion of Map A, the elimination of all other maps for discussion is not in keeping with the spirit of the FAIR MAPs Act (AB 849 May 2019) and the resolution you signed earlier this year for a fair and inclusive redistricting process. The opportunity to talk through divergent ideas and come to a consensus is fundamental to our democracy.
In addition to the concerns about the map and the narrowing of options, this fair process has not been honored in other ways:
– Meeting agendas have not been published on the County redistricting website before the meetings
– Supervisors did not discuss the input from the community, nor pros and cons of various maps
– Some public hearing attendees who raised their hand to speak were not called upon
– Online mapping tools were only in English, and were difficult to use if a commenter had disabilities
– The tool for the community to draw districts does not include city or census designated place lines
– Neither the visualizations map, nor the district drawing tool have the Communities of Interest input submitted by the public. This input is only reflected in a third map.
– No public outreach was conducted by the County in southern or eastern parts of the county
– Community-created map(s) were not shared prior to the decision making process
– Most hearings were held on Tuesday evenings, when other public meetings are scheduled
– No hearings were held on weekends
This effort is not over. We have worked diligently as a coalition, to ensure that community voices are part of the process. Make sure those voices are not lost. The more people who speak up during the remaining meetings, the better chance we have to be taken seriously. Numbers matter. You matter.
There is only one meeting left before the map adoption process. Make your voice heard before it is too late. And make sure yours is not the only voice in the room. Bring others to speak up. NOW is the opportunity for you to be heard.
The final meeting is Thursday December 2d at 6pm.
Feel free to use any of the information in this letter as talking points for the meeting. If you would like other help or want to be part of the text chain, please contact Sara Lamnin (510) 432-7703 firstname.lastname@example.org or Penelope Hughes email@example.com
Why does this matter?
The results of this redistricting will be locked in place for a decade.
What is the strategy regarding having more than one supervisor?
Organizations like the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and many others have noted that when communities are not divided they have a stronger ability to advocate for their needs and elect representatives of their choice. Reflective of this philosophy, the 2019 state laws prioritize keeping Communities of Interest (COIs) together to make sure that their elected representative—in this case, one Supervisor—would represent a district of similar COIs. The underlying theory in the 2019 laws is that keeping a community together in one district strengthens its voice in advocating for services. Others believe that having multiple supervisors, even if they are a small part of each of those districts, gives them more representation in elections and issues.
Does the Coalition have a position on which map should be adopted?
The Coalition is neutral regarding the outcome of the process as long as the final map reflects the intent of the FAIR MAPs Act. We’ll keep educating as many residents as possible on the process. We are offering the meeting schedule, this set of questions and answers, and contacts that you can call for more information. After all, you and your members/associates are the foundation of our Coalition for Fair Redistricting.
Since January 2021, 42 organizations have signed a resolution calling for a fair and inclusive process. Was this reflected in the County’s actions?
By removing all other possibilities, other than the status quo, from the table as well as essentially ignoring all the dialogue in the previous meetings, our Board of Supervisors has undermined this process. This kind of action is exactly why the FAIR MAPs Act was created—to facilitate participation by people of different backgrounds, knowledge bases and geographic locations. Bringing together diverse perspectives, it is possible to collaborate and share governance.
Was community input as comprehensive as it could have been?
Alameda County did not start community input until September. Volunteers attempted to fill that void, but without the county information and portals, it was extremely difficult. Fortunately, we have already seen more community engagement this year than in all the meetings in 2011. At the same time, County Staff were hindered by not having this process initiated at the same time as the Census given the link between these processes.
By law, isn’t redistricting supposed to be about our communities, not about incumbents?
Yes. The two laws (AB 849 and AB 1276) put in place for fair redistricting in 2019 specifically say that because district lines last for a whole decade, the current incumbents are NOT to be considered when making redistricting decisions, nor are political parties. Maintaining the status quo simply because of an affinity for the current supervisor negates the principles of fair redistricting. It’s not about elected officials, it’s about you— the residents of the county. Your Map is Your Voice.
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