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Kern County Board of Supervisors approve new district lines

Posted: 4:39 PM, Nov 17, 2021
Updated: 2021-11-17 20:22:54-05
Kern County Board of Supervisors

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Kern County Board of Supervisors had until Dec. 15 to approve the new district lines, but Tuesday night they made their choice and approved a draft.

The last scheduled public hearing was Nov. 17 for the Kern County Board of Supervisors to take comments and feedback.

After months of drafts, hearings, and workshops, the supervisors did approve what the new district lines would look like. But the changes are not very drastic, even with data from the latest census, and the decision was not unanimous.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors voted to approve new supervisorial district lines based on data from the 2020 census on Tuesday night.

The new map, called A3, is very similar to existing lines. The main differences are to districts 3 and 5 in Bakersfield and because these lines were recently redrawn, some public opinion supported this map because it would give residents consistency.

The other map being discussed was presented by the Equity Maps Coalition. It’s made up of various community organizations, including the Delores Huerta Foundation, and is basically a draft that people came together to create. One main difference is the whole eastern part of the county would be part of one district and during the public hearings, some people thought this map would be the fairest.

“I think the really important thing here is to serve our underserved community and think about that which map is going to do the best for them. I’ve looked at it, I think it’s going to be the Equity Coalition Map,” a community member comments.

One community member disagrees saying it would increase divisions on racial and ethnic lines: “We don’t support the rekindling of the segregation; we don’t support the disturbing idea that Hispanics should be voting for Hispanics just because they’re Hispanics.”

Supervisor Leticia Perez from District 5 was the only one to vote against the draft map A3: “I support the equity map because I love all of the folks that have come forward to express their desire for all of us to do better and that is progress at the end of the day.”

Part of this redistricting process has been focused on public comment and getting feedback from residents. The county told 23ABC in a statement, “We’ve invited the public to join us every step of the way and have appreciated the steady engagement of our residents.”

Now that the Board of Supervisors approved the maps, this ordinance goes into effect Dec. 15.

Even though redistricting happened according to the latest census, the district lines did not change much, the main differences are to District 3 and District 5 in Bakersfield.

The make-up of the districts is supposed to reflect the voting population there and give communities a fair chance at representation.

The census categories ethnicities in four groups: Latino, Asian, Black, and others including white and indigenous groups. In District 1, the northeast part of the county, the census shows the largest group is “other” at about 64 percent of the total population, including non-citizens and children. Which means that 72 percent of the eligible voters are “other”, while 26 percent of residents are Latinos, and 19 percent are eligible voters.

In District 2, in the southern part, the “other” and Latino residents are nearly equal, but 57 percent of eligible voters are “other” and 30 percent Latino.

In District 3 in Bakersfield, the ethnic make-up is like District 2. District 4 is a predominantly Latino area, with 74 percent of the population Latino and 64 percent are eligible Latino voters, and District 5 in Bakersfield is similar.

“The census designated places, keeping those together, and our communities of interest, and the balancing of the population obviously that’s important criteria and map A3 does that with limited disruption to current boundaries,” said Zach Scrivner, the Supervisor for District 3.

Counsel did add that there is up to a ten percent margin from the census that the district make-ups can be, but the growth rate is usually only taken into consideration if they are sure that one population will grow significantly more than the rest.

That deviation from the total population according to the census, to the eligible voters in the area is less than two percent per district now.