Thursday, September 29, 2022     Volume: 23, Issue: 31

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 21st, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 30

Redistricting changes could come before voters in 2024

By Taylor O'Connor

Voters could get an opportunity to make changes to Santa Barbara County’s redistricting process in the near future, based on recommendations from the people who sat on the redistricting commission in 2021.

“As with any new process, there were many opportunities for learning and understanding the challenges to potentially improve the process for the next cycle, which will be in 2030,” a Sept. 20 staff report stated. 

Santa Barbara County’s first ever Independent Redistricting Commission, which voted on the new supervisorial district map in 2021, suggested changes to the process that voters would need to approve.

In December 2021, the 11-person commission selected the final map outlining the county’s supervisorial districts as part of the federal and state requirements to redraw district lines every 10 years. It was the first time the county used an Independent Redistricting Commission after residents voted for 2018’s Measure G to establish it. 

Improvement suggestions include widening the commission candidate selection pool, clarifying rules for commissioner replacements, and appointing candidates earlier. The next redistricting will take place after the 2030 census. 

While some of these adjustments require voter approval in order to make changes, others—like appointing candidates earlier—simply require the Board of Supervisors’ blessing for a process change, Assistant County Executive Officer Nancy Anderson said. 

“We do have some time, but we do want the board to direct us on how our time should be spent on this,” Anderson told the board on Sept. 20. “We can research and provide further analysis on options that would require voter approval.” 

The supervisors agreed 5-0 to make the ordinance changes that don’t require a ballot measure, and directed staff to come back prior to the 2024 elections for further discussion. 

Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson said he would like to see the ordinance amended by voters and supported the board approving any other recommended changes to improve the redistricting commission selection process. 

“The sooner we do that the better. That way it doesn’t seem as politicized and it gets more unified support by the county, so people aren’t gaming it [and] aren’t trying to figure out how to benefit themselves or others,” Nelson said. 

The issue with acting sooner rather than waiting, 5th District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said, is if the state government steps in to make amendments to the redistricting process. 

“I noticed that the governor was demanding to take [redistricting] away from the Board of Supervisors in the future,” Lavagnino said. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Sept. 18 that he signed three bills to overrule local officials and require independent redistricting commissions in Fresno, Kern, and Riverside counties. Nelson agreed that if more state laws pass, it could affect the pool of options or models that Santa Barbara County could select from, but he emphasized that there should be an early discussion. 

“There’s a sweet spot, maybe it’s 2024, maybe it’s 2026, to give us some more time,” Nelson said. “Although I suspect the further we get from this redistricting process that other crises will come up and people will forget about this up until a year or two before, and then you get the problem of people politically jockeying to try to change it to benefit themselves.” 

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