SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — Most people may not always be aware of what happens within their local government, but when it comes to the redistricting process — community members are encouraged to pay close attention to this process as it will directly impact the community.
Every 10 years, political districts for the U.S. Congress along with state and county governments are redrawn every ten years after the U.S. Census count is made official.
Santa Clara County is currently underway with its redistricting process and community leaders and advocates are urging the public to take part in an important aspect of democracy.
“It’s important for people to come together to make sure that the final map that the [Santa Clara] County Board of Supervisors approves matches the community they live in,” said Bob Staedler, vice chair for the 2021 Advisory Redistricting Commission.
“And as we’ve seen as a country over the last several years representation matters and people’s voice needs to be heard.
Population change in Santa Clara County
According to the 2020 census, there have been significant shifts in population throughout Santa Clara County.
As part of the county’s redistricting process, the Board of Supervisors has set up a 15-person Advisory Redistricting Commission to hold public hearings, collect community input and recommend updated supervisorial district boundaries.
Other factors considered in drawing new boundaries include: topography, geography, cohesiveness, contagiousness, compactness of territory and communities of interest.
“It’s three [commissioners] from each supervisorial district, we have five districts, we come together and hear public testimony, then we get the information on how this census data has changed,” said Staedler.
“And then we’re going to come together and vote on one map or several maps and we’re going to send them to the county Board of Supervisors.”
How to get involved
Community members are invited to provide input and share their perspectives that will ultimately decide how district boundaries will be redrawn.
Staedler tells KRON4 News that for the redistricting process to work equitably, input from community members representing the county’s diverse background is key.
“I think we see a lot of communities feel underrepresented and we’ve seen some of the gerrymandered maps across the country that are not what we want to see here,” said Staedler.
“So you see a lot of the Asian population and large groups that are voting blocks,” Staedler added.
“And they need to understand that if lines matter and lines cut through neighborhoods, their voting power could be diminished.”
The commission is scheduled to meet on Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27 with an additional meeting scheduled for Oct. 23 at 2 p.m.
Community members will have the opportunity to take part of the redistricting process by:
- Attending and speaking at the 2021 Advisory Commission’s meetings.
- Completing a community of interest form to give information on their community.
- Submit maps electronically describing communities of interest or proposed supervisorial district boundaries.
- Advocate for the district they prefer.
- Participate in the joint public hearing with the Board of Supervisors meeting when they new maps are considered and adopted.
Community input needed
In order for the commission to draft maps and shift supervisorial district lines, community input is needed to identify communities of interest.
Communities of interest are considered concentrated populations that share common social and economic interests that should be included within a single district to ensure effective and fair representation.
The commissioners must submit their recommendations on the placement of district boundaries by Nov. 18 as county supervisors are set to approve the new district maps in December.
To draw your community of interest, click or tap here.
For more information on the county’s redistricting process, click or tap here.