Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines

With his signature on Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to get lost when it comes to the next redistricting task in nine years. The governor signed legislation by Assemblymember Joaquín Arámbula, D-Fresno, to give those duties to a 14-member community redistricting commission. Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure that the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation. The five-member board lobbied against the Arámbula bill, saying it takes the redistricting process “away from the voters” who elect the board “and gives it to appointed special interest groups with no accountability to voters.” “AB 2030 proposed to usurp local control and discretion of the County of Fresno’s elected representatives, while other counties with similar demographics and population would maintain local control and discretion over the redistricting process,” the board wrote. Arámbula, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and other community organizations said the supervisors can’t be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts based on the fact that supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.

Sal Quintero is the sole Latino on the board. Latinos account for 53.4% of county residents, up from about 35% in 1990. There are three Republicans and two Democrats on the board, but Supervisor Brian Pacheco, a Democrat, tends to vote with the three GOP representatives. Registered Democrats are now counted almost eight points higher than Republicans, 39.7% to 32%, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. That’s a change from an even split a decade ago.

The League of Women Voters of Fresno backed Arámbula’s bill. The organization, in a letter of support, said the California Fair Maps Act moved the county closer to “an inclusive and more transparent process.” “However, the lack of an independent redistricting body allowed our county supervisors to disregard public testimony and more than 15 publicly-submitted maps to adopt a virtually unchanged district map,” the league wrote. The board voted 4-1 to adopt a district map that was drawn by county staffers that remained little changed from previous boundaries. A map promoted by the Central California Coalition for Equitable Realignment did not make the final cut despite support from 36 of 46 people who testified before the board. “I’m disappointed,” said former Assemblymember Juan Arámbula after the vote. “I think the time has come to look at requiring counties to set up independent commissions outside of their control to make these decisions because (the supervisors) just have too much self-interest.” Arámbula, the father of the current assemblymember, pushed for independent commissions when he served in the Assembly. Newsom appears to have paid attention this time, a year after vetoing legislation that would have required counties with more than 400,000 residents to turn over redistricting duties to a citizens commission. Newsom also signed a bill by Assemblymember Rudy Salas to create a citizens redistricting commission in Kern County. The Arámbula bill, which sailed through the Assembly 56-20 and the state Senate 29-10, was also opposed by the California State Association of Counties. The bill will establish a 14-member commission with political representation proportional to the county’s voter registration party preference. The Salas bill has identical language. “Fresno County must have an independent citizens redistricting commission that will seriously listen to the voices of people demanding representation that truly reflects their communities and will address their issues,” said Arámbula in introducing the bill. “Our county is changing, and Latinos now make up the majority of the population.”

The legislation, AB 2430, was strongly backed by the Dolores Huerta Foundation, whose community outreach led to an increase in resident involvement during the redistricting process. The foundation also backed community organizations that came up with new district boundaries designed to improve the chances of Latino candidates. In the June primary, José Ramírez and Daniel Parra lost the only contested race, losing to incumbent Buddy Mendes. The community-favored map would have created three Latino-majority districts, and would have kept the Mendes district west of Highway 41 and moved the portion east of the highway into a new district with farming and communities that are different from those that remain in the old district. Fresno County joins the counties of Los Ángeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Bárbara in having a citizens redistricting commission. Kern County got added this year also after Newsom signed the Salas legislation. Latinos represent the majority of residents in Fresno (53.6%), Tulare (65.5%), Kings (56.8%), Kern (54.9%), Madera (59.6%), and Merced (61.8%) counties, yet each have just one Latino/Latina on the board of supervisors. In Kern County, the board of supervisors also opposed the Salas bill, saying “a new and fundamentally partisan redistricting process is being unfairly and unnecessarily forced on the residents of Kern County, over the objection of their duly elected local representatives.” If the board is removed from the redistricting process, the county said, “it makes no sense at all that the board would still be responsible for footing the bill.” After Kern County came up with new supervisorial districts in 2011, it lost a lawsuit to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) over those maps in 2018. MALDEF said the 2011 maps denied Latinos the right to elect their own candidates in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

Comments

  1. Soviet communism rules! Taking us down without a physical war – enemy RATS within!

  2. I hope there is a lawsuit against this move. It is a direct violation of voters right and anattempt to take what little power the voters really have!

  3. The only answer is YOU VOTED FOR HIM.

    I sure did not.

    Where is the lawsuit against Weiner’s stupid SB-9?

    Brown stated RHNA is unconstitutional but then said you have to do it even if you do not implement!

    What do the all have in common? They were and are created by the Far Left Socialist represented by the Democrat Party.

    I am fast coming to the belief that most Dem. voters are morons.

    That would at least give them an excuse for what they are doing and then complaining about the outcome.

  4. Votes are bought and buyers want the FREE money – so called morons!!

  5. We had a good chance to RECALL this communist fascist turd……..I mean DICKtator. So now we’re stuck with a one party controlled state. I don’t give a crap because I’m moving to Florida!!!

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