Local government redistricting may not sound like the most exciting of political activities, but it actually has a direct impact on the day-to-day issues and challenges that your community faces. Political districts for U.S. Congress along with state and county governments are redrawn every ten years after the U.S. Census count is made official. The redistricting process in Santa Clara County is currently underway and many community leaders and advocates are urging you to take part in the important aspect of democracy.
“It’s really about a long-term investment of resources into your community from City Hall. The only way to ensure that you have a seat at the table at City Hall is to be involved in the process of redistricting. It isn’t just about the lines being drawn, it’s about establishing a long-term conversation for your community at City Hall,” San Jose Planning Commission Chair Rolando Bonilla told San Jose Spotlight.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has set up a 15-person commission made up of community members to help make recommendations for new district maps. Three members represent each of the five supervisorial districts. The city of San Jose also has a redistricting commission. Both of the commissions are counting on vital information from the public so they can put forth the fairest, new district lines. Each district is mostly based on population but they also take into account geography, minority groups, contiguousness, and other factors.
Recommendations on the placement of the district boundaries must be submitted by November 18th with Supervisors set to approve the new district maps in December. The Santa Clara County Redistricting Commission will soon be holding virtual public hearings and mapping sessions as they collect community input and there are plenty of opportunities for you to be heard. You can voice concerns at commission advisory meetings, fill out a Community of Interest Form, submit your own maps online, advocate for the plan you like most, and attend the public hearings with the Board of Supervisors toward the end of the process.
“Very few people join these meetings. Many of the maps that are created are never publicly shared. Nothing happens alone. You need to be interacting with others and working together on these maps,” says San Jose Redistricting Advisory Commission member Ramon Martinez, speaking San Jose Spotlight. According to the Mercury News, public training is available for people who want a deeper understanding of the redistricting process or if they want to learn how to use the mapping software to draw their own lines.
You can find everything you need to know about how you can participate in the redistricting of Santa Clara County at www.sccgov.org/2021redistricting.