Almanac

Viewpoint - February 10, 2010

Letter: Seats open on state redistricting panel

We have an extraordinary opportunity for Californians, just like you, to literally map the future of our state.

Here's how: California, like every other state in the nation, will use the new U.S. Census data to redraw our political districts in 2011 to make sure that every district contains the same number of people. This process is called redistricting, and it happens every 10 years. But the 2011 redistricting process will be very different in California. And the rest of the nation will be watching us.

Back in 2008, we, the voters of California, made history by passing Proposition 11, taking the redistricting power from the legislature and putting it in the hands of ordinary citizens. Now the responsibility for drawing new district maps for the state Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization will be entrusted to a new Citizens Redistricting Commission made up of 14 voters — five Democrats, five Republicans, and four people from neither of those parties.

Here's why it's so important that ordinary citizens — people like you — apply to serve on the commission. For decades, the state legislature designed these electoral districts. The system was rife with self-interest and backroom deals. The result? Strangely-shaped districts that practically guaranteed re-election for incumbents — protecting the interests of politicians, their campaign funders and their political parties while ignoring community interests.

With a state as large and diverse as California, who draws the lines and how those lines are drawn will truly shape the future of our state. Under Proposition 11, the new Citizens Redistricting Commission, using a fair and open process, will draw the district lines. But for the process to work, we need as many qualified, public-spirited Californians as possible to apply to be commission members.

If you have an open mind and you appreciate the importance of California's diversity, you'd probably make a good commissioner. For important information about specific qualifications for being a commissioner, please take a close look at the Redistricting Commission's Web site www.WeDrawTheLines.ca.gov as well as the California League of Women Voters website, www.lwvc.org

We need your help to make the new redistricting process a success. Our future may depend on it.

Jamie Shepard, president

League of Women Voters of

So. San Mateo County, Menlo Park

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