Defenders of Central Valley Intrigued by District Plans Proposed by Congress | New


The California Citizens Redistricting Commission will soon make a decision on the legislative limits that will shape California politics for the next 10 years. But as the commission nears its decision, Central Valley defenders on both sides of the aisle raised red flags on proposed maps impacting the Fresno and Bakersfield area.

If the commission passes the new maps unchanged, supporters fear that residents of the southern central valley will be poorly represented by the politicians who will inevitably be elected. The flash point became the proposal of the new Congressional Districts, which would see three Latin American majority districts created in the Central Valley, but also bring communities together in a way that makes no sense.

What do Oildale and Rosedale have in common with North Fresno? Well, according to the map proposed by Congress, the district now represented by Representative Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, would encompass both areas.

Do Delano and the community of Seven Oaks in Bakersfield have much in common? According to the proposed map, the two would be represented by the same congressman, an arrangement that advocates say serves both communities poorly.

Additionally, the new map splits Fresno into three wards as it is now split in half, which could dilute the city’s overall political influence.

“From a partisan perspective, that doesn’t change much,” said Tony Quinn, a former Republican consultant with vast experience in redistribution. “It’s just not a good way to do it.”

He noted that all members of local Congress except Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, would see little change in the makeup of Democrats and Republicans within their districts. However, the composition of the neighborhoods opens the possibility that certain communities are represented by a politician who lives far away and who knows little of the region.

The districts proposed for the State Senate have similar boundaries, which present similar problems.

“There’s no point in having your state senator from North Fresno,” Quinn added. “There is no way to put North Fresno with West Bakersfield in both Senate and Congress. I don’t know why people in your area haven’t complained about it.

Only one of the 14 constituency commissioners is from the Central Valley. This person, Trena Turner, is from Stockton. Lawyers say this leaves the commission unfamiliar with the southern part of the valley, which has contributed to the disorganized boundaries of Fresno and Bakersfield.

“What is common knowledge to you and I is strange to them at the level of another planet,” said Lori Pesante, director of civic engagement and government relations at the Dolores Huerta Foundation. “We have to break it down for them so that they understand where we came from.”

Pesante and the Dolores Huerta Foundation are concerned about how the map proposed by Congress potentially reduces the political power of Latinos across the Central Valley. Under the current proposal, Pesante says, the limits restrict the ability for Latinos, who make up more than 50 percent of the population in all Central Valley counties, to elect any candidates they want.

“The commission has already identified the central valley as an area where if they don’t do things right, not only will they run a very high risk of litigation, but they will deprive the protected classes of the right to vote,” he said. she declared.

Even the Kern County Farm Bureau opposed the proposed district boundaries, saying the boundaries diluted the voice of the local agricultural industry.

“We strongly encourage the Commission to consider adopting maps that recognize the importance of Kern’s agriculture, which does not dilute the ability of local agriculture to speak and be heard with a unified voice”, wrote executive director Romeo Agbalog in an email to The Californian, “and allows us to be represented by someone who resides near us and who understands the uniqueness and intricacies of Kern’s agriculture industry. “

The commission plans to take the limits from Congress next week before final approval on Dec. 26. The commissioners meet every day for the next few weeks to discuss the maps. Information on attending meetings is available at wedrawthelinesca.org/meetings.

Public comments can also be submitted through the website.

“Commissioners are aware of the concerns,” said Fredy Ceja, communications director of the Citizens Redistricting Commission. “They get real-time feedback. When developing maps, commissioners must follow a set of weighted criteria. The first is to ensure that all districts have an equal population. The second is compliance with the Voting Rights Act (VRA). In the case of Fresno, they sought to protect communities from the VRA. They have since revisited the area to provide additional options. “


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