Comments on Redrawing County Districts

I made a brief version of these comments at today’s County Board of Supervisors meeting (there were so many commenters the Board chose to limit public comments to one minute rather than the normal two…which is perfectly understandable but was unanticipated by me :)).

Good morning, and thanks for giving me time to address you. I have four points to make today.

First, my thanks to County staff for the support they gave the District Lines Advisory Commission. There were a few rough spots involving the consultants. But while there are lessons to be learned, bottom-line staff did an excellent job.

Second, I hope you will keep the commissioners informed about your map discussions. That’s important because I doubt the Board will simply adopt either of the two recommended maps. If it doesn’t, commissioners could easily see their work as being in vain even though it wasn’t. Sharing your thinking would help counter that.

Third, some personal comments about map design.

Maps are based on so many competing factors one could spend forever drawing them. That’s why defining goals for the map first is valuable. Here are some ideas:

  • Consider keeping the coastal communities together. They are a relatively distinct area. Also, for many coastal residents the Board serves as local government.
  • Splitting cities between districts is likely unavoidable. Consider starting with the largest ones. Big cities have both cohesion and diversity, allowing them to span districts more easily.
  • Lean towards evolutionary changes. Big changes may be justified in some cases. But they require rebuilding relationships between communities and the Board.

Finally, I hope you’ll separately continue supporting candidate diversity. Expanding the board would likely do this. But please consider other options, too. Like offering educational forums on running campaigns, making electoral data more readily available, and perhaps some form of partial public financing. The County’s diversity can be a great strength if the candidate pool gets expanded beyond the well-to-do and well-connected.

Thank you.

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