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Redistricting Concerns Heard by Commission

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By John Coleman –

Every ten years, the census determines how many people are in the United States and where they live. Then everyone is thrown into districts for congressional and state houses once it is known where the growth or loss is. New lines will have to be drawn to put the same number of people into each district. The process changed in the last election cycle for California when an independent citizens’ commission was appointed to do the job taking it out of the hands of the elected officials. The 10 member committee met in San Bernardino at the county building and an overflowing crowd attended giving testimony from all over Southern California on the proposed maps. From Los Angeles to the high desert to the low desert citizens spoke.

They spoke on the common social and economic interests, pointing to where the community was located and why it should be kept together. This is the first draft of the maps unveiled on June 10, following the drafts testimony will be taken and then in July a date not yet determined will post a second draft map before the final map will be posted on July 26. The deadline for the commission to approve the final maps is August 15, 2011.

The proposed plan must take into consideration the Voting Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination in voting.

Local citizen Walter Hawkins from the Inland Empire African American Redistricting Coalition spoke of the necessity of keeping Rialto and San Bernardino together and allow Fontana to go with the West Valley communities. The main focus was to create as many districts within San Bernardino County together. One area for the final maps is the El Rancho Verde Country Club, He wanted to see the map be reconfigured to include them. Frances Grice also addressed the commission about San Bernardino but more about Redlands. As it stands right now, the city is divided. Cheryl Brown, representing the NAACP additionally spoke requesting that cities would not be separated and as much as possible keep them together. She also said the Rialto MAC area (El Rancho Verde) should be included with the city of Rialto.

Riversiders were generally pleased with their proposed maps that will more closely align Moreno Valley with the city of Riverside. Marcia McQuern from the Monday Morning Group and Cindy Roth from the Riverside Chamber of Commerce were joined by Burma Mann and Jose Medina who also spoke. The mountain areas were the most vocal. Several came to request that the San Bernardino Mountain communities be included in one district. There was concern that Upland would be placed in the foothill communities of Altadena and Pasadena and a request to keep the entirety of San Bernardino together.

The Commission was very attentive, active listeners, and responsive to the requests of the people.

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