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Saturday, November 27, 2021

Yolo County prepares for 2021 redistricting

The redistricting process could have significant impacts on community representation

By YAN YAN HUSTIS HAYES — city@theaggie.org

Every 10 years, districts must be redrawn in order to have proportional representation. This process ensures that each board member represents the same number of constituents. 

 This year, the redistricting process is set to be completed by Dec. 15, 2021. 

According to Yolo County Communications Coordinator Frank Schneegas, the Board of Supervisors is tasked with overseeing the processes with help from other advisory boards. 

“Redistricting happens every ten years and is the process of redrawing district lines to reflect how local populations have changed,” Schneegas said via email. “The Board of Supervisors oversees redistricting and is responsible for drawing supervisorial districts, with recommendations from the Advisory Redistricting Commission. Alexander Tengolics is the Advisory Redistricting Commission Liaison.” 

Schneegas explained that the Board uses census data in order to create an accurate reflection of changing populations in Yolo County. 

 “Census data is used to redraw the district lines to ensure that board members each represent about the same number of constituents,” Schneegas said. “Redistricting determines which neighborhoods and communities are grouped together into a district for the purposes of electing a board member.”

While the latest census data should reflect the most recent changes in population, many Yolo County residents expressed concern in regards to adequate representation for rural communities at the Sept. 20 Yolo County Advisory Redistricting Commission meeting

At the meeting, Yolo County Community member Rachel Long voiced her concerns about rural representation and districting. 

“I live in Zamora where we farm, and I’m really concerned about the representation of rural communities in having a voice,” Long said. “We only come up with 32 thousand people in our rural area and we need at least 10 thousand more people in order to find representation. The question is where do we get these extra people? That has to come from cities.” 

Chair of the Yolo County Advisory Redistricting Commission Marco Lizarraga addressed these representational concerns by stressing his role in this redistricting process at the Sept. 20 public meeting

“One way to motivate the community to come to the official planning commission is to make their components and their views known,” Lizarraga said. “I am on the commission to serve and I will do that.” 

Redistricting Partner’s Chief Operations Officer Chris Chaffee detailed three different ways that community members could become more involved with the redistricting process. 

“There’s a [few] ways that the public can provide input—a great way is to appear at one of these meetings and provide comments,” Chaffee said. “A second way is to submit a Community of Interest form through the website and another great way is to draw your community of interest on DristrictR.”

Chaffee outlined the submitted testimonials and explained that many of them share common themes.   

“We started our outreach presentations in July and we can start talking about district plans,” Chaffee said. “There really are some basic themes with several community members asking that Winters be incorporated into current District 5 and with the rural unincorporated areas of the county.”

Much of the meeting concerned the need to adequately represent communities of interest. This is defined by the Yolo County website as a group of people in the same geographically definable area who share common social and economic interests. 

“Some common examples of Communities of Interest are senior citizens, LGBTQIA+ communities, people who live downtown or in a neighborhood, and residents who share a common language,” reads the website.  

For any community members who are interested in participating in the redistricting process, the next meeting will be held on Oct. 18 from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, according to the Yolo County website.

Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — city@theaggie.org

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