BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Bakersfield has narrowed its redistricting choice down about a month before its deadline. The city settled on two choices that they believe are the best representations of the different communities in Bakersfield.
Redistricting is a process required every ten years following the release of updated census data. It's a complex and lengthy matter that began back in August of 2021. Now the city has until April 17th to make a decision.
Redistricting is the process of enacting new congressional and state legislative district boundaries. All United States Representatives and state legislators are elected from political divisions called districts. The states redraw district lines every 10 years following completion of the United States census. The federal government requires that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.
”Those communities have certain needs and desires, and things that they want to see happen,” said Bakersfield spokesperson Joe Conroy. “So you want to make sure that is accurately represented among the voting population.”
The city is looking to accurately represent communities' interests, but that decision comes with stipulations. According to the Fair Maps Act, the districts must each have an equal population with only a small percentage of variation, have geographically contiguous districts, and should not favor or discriminate against political parties.
Only after these are met can you look at other criteria such as communities of interest, compactness, and easily identifiable boundaries.
When it comes to communities of interest.
“Those can be a variety of things," explained Conroy. "It’s not necessarily just race or descent, but things people in a certain area, common goals, common likes, common dislikes.”
The choices of new districts include Draft Plan 2C, which shares with current ward boundaries.
The second map option is Draft Plan 5B - also known as the Unity Map - and was submitted by the Jakarta Movement.
“Through the process, it’s been very clear some of the challenges. Maintaining those communities of interest. It changes what some of the other options are available to us" said Bakersfield City Manager Christian Clegg.
The city’s next redistricting hearing is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m.