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Legislature Creates Independent Redistricting Commission

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Legislature Creates Independent Redistricting Commission

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The Legislature set the stage for the process of reapportioning the County's legislative districts as a result of the 2010 Census. The Legislature, by a vote of 14-1 (Legislator Carol Chock voted no), approved creation of a nine-member Independent Redistricting Commission, charged with preparing a reapportionment plan to present to the Legislature for approval. The plan will include recommendations regarding the number and geographical boundaries of districts from which members of the Legislature are elected. Commission members and its chair will be appointed by the Legislature. Members must be county residents and registered voters, and no current elected municipal officials, or officers of any political party or committee will be appointed to the Commission.

This is the first time the County has employed an Independent Redistricting Commission as part of the reapportionment process, an approach recommended by the Legislature's Government Operations Committee. Committee Chair Mike Lane said all Commission meetings will be open, and there will be a lot of them by the time the Commission reports back to the Legislature next March. He called the independent commission "a great leap forward for good government."

While thanking the committee for its work, Legislator Chock said she has reservations about the Commission's having no political representation, saying her study of the redistricting issue shows some potential pitfalls in a total lack of political representation. She said she would prefer that a few commission members represent political parties, bringing a level of understanding from people directly responsible to the voters. Legislator Nathan Shinagawa stressed the importance of education of Commission members as part of the process, and Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera said it is in the public's best interest that the independent commission be open and transparent, including providing clear and ample public notice for all of its meetings.

The Legislature may offer amendments, once presented a plan by the Commission, and it will ultimately be up to the Legislature to pass a local law adopting a redistricting plan, once the Commission completes its work.