After months of educating the community on how Redwood City’s voting districts should be mapped out, the committee appointed to lead the process is approaching a recommendation that emphasizes the voting powers of minorities while by aiming to keep neighborhoods intact.
The current city map was drawn two years ago using data from the 2010 census when the city was running for district elections, but population numbers have since been updated in the 2020 U.S. Census. , forcing the city to redraw the maps.
“The responsibility of ours is to recognize these demographic shifts and see how we might not make everyone’s voice heard in Redwood City,” said Dr Jose Manuel Peña, member of the Redistribution Advisory Committee, during ” a committee meeting on Wednesday 3 November.
After reviewing the maps drawn and submitted by community members, and three maps drafted by consultancy firm Redistricting Partners, the committee broadly agreed that the city should have at least two majority minority districts where Latinos make up at least 50. % of the voting population.
Hyla Lacefield, a committee member representing District 5, said preserving the two Latino minority-majority districts is “vital” to ensuring that under-represented community members have a voice in city politics. The move would offer Latino residents in those districts the option of placing two representatives on the seven-person board.
In agreement, the committee voted to remove a proposed Redistricting Partners card from consideration because it only included one majority minority district, a result encouraged by committee chairman Rudy Espinoza Murray.
“I think this is in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Cards Act,” Espinoza Murray said.
Some committee members also shared an interest in keeping as many complete wards within the districts as possible rather than dividing them between two or more districts. But for that to happen, the city would have to be open to splitting the Redwood Shores neighborhood, a move that should be weighed against community testimony pushing against the idea, noted Chris Chaffee, director of operations at Redistricting Partner. .
Two maps drafted by the consultants keep Redwood Shores as one neighborhood while preserving two majority minority neighborhoods, but in the first, titled Plan A, only eight of the city’s 17 neighborhoods are whole while only six are on the second map of the city. Plan B.
Redwood Shores is the city’s largest and most isolated neighborhood. Keeping it intact would also make it the larger neighborhood. Louis Covey, the committee member representing District 3, argued that keeping the ward single limits council representation of nearly 13,000 residents to one person.
But Amy Buckmaster, representing Redwood Shores in District 1, objected to the split, noting that the neighborhood differs widely from others, including Bair Island, another waterfront community largely isolated from the rest of the city.
“With Redwood Shores, I think there has to be one. It shows, the data shows it, ”Buckmaster said.
Likewise, Covey argued that pushing to keep neighborhoods intact was a “red herring” and suggested that most townspeople are unfamiliar with the areas of town or in which they live.
Still, the committee asked the team of consultants to research ways in which the division of Redwood Shores could help increase the number of complete wards in other wards while retaining at least two majority minority wards.
The consultants were also asked to write a “minimal change” map which kept the districts as close as possible to their current configuration after taking into account the population changes.
The committee will consider the new maps while keeping in mind two other consultant map projects at its next meeting on November 17th. The meeting will include a public hearing on possible card collection before committee members make the final recommended changes. and provide support for which card they think the board should choose.
The council will hold two additional public hearings on December 6 and January 24, when a final card selection will be made.
Community members can continue to submit cards through the city’s website or in person at City Hall and the Downtown Library until Tuesday, November 9. Newly submitted maps will be taken into consideration at the next Redistribution Advisory Committee meeting.