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Community members comment on redistricting process

Kern County Board of Supervisors
Posted at 11:00 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-27 02:23:46-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The county is redrawing its lines for the supervisorial districts based on data from the 2020 census. Tuesday, the Kern County Board of Supervisors listened to the public for their input on the redistricting process.

Based on the proposed plans, the lines would shift to unify different neighborhoods and cities or could also create districts based on the minorities or industries in those areas. Tuesday, the public shared their thoughts on the choices.

This process began in February of this year. Kern County is working with the group Redistricting Partners, to help figure out the best way to map the districts. Their staff presented four different versions of the maps adjusted based on population and race or ethnic group.

Draft “A” is very similar to the existing district lines, and it was quite popular at Tuesday’s hearing, including with the Greater Bakersfield Chamber.

“We would advocate for and encourage the board to consider the approval of the map that offers the least amount of changes to the current district lines. As it’s drafted today, that appears to be county draft plan A,” said Kaelyn Peterson, Greater Bakersfield Chamber.

Others prefer draft map “A” because they didn’t want to see the county segregated based on racial or ethnic group.

“So, I can understand having a representative representing a portion of the county, as an American. As an American citizen, I don’t care what color you are. You’re an American citizen. So, I think we should be treated as American citizens. Not as a color. So, I think our representatives should represent us as American citizens, not as a color,” said a community member during public comment.

Draft map “B” would make the boundaries fit along with Bakersfield neighborhoods and draft plan “C” would create three majority-minority districts and a rural district with the farming communities.

The last one was one built by the equitable map coalition. Input from community groups and members was presented as well. One community member said that if supervisors change to make district lines balanced, it won’t harm the residents who live in those areas.

“The only two supervisors I’ve had is Mr. Maggard or Leticia Perez. Whenever it switched districts from Mr. Maggard’s hands to Leticia’s hands, I wasn’t in like a fury of, oh my god, who is my supervisor? I was just like, okay, I just switched supervisors. It’s not that big of a deal when you educate yourself on this when you educate your children on this,” said a community member during the public comment.

Lori Pesante with the Delores Huerta Foundation who is also working with the equitable map coalition stressed the importance for people to be involved in the process of making these decisions.

“It is so important for everyone to participate. It only makes the maps that much stronger when you have a really good process to take advantage of the best that data has to offer and the best that people have to offer,” said Pesante “And that’s really going to help set the stage for us to have really, really good decision making in Kern County for the next 10 years.”

If you want to submit feedback about the redistricting process, you can be involved by submitting it through a feedback form, mailing your views to the county administrative office, calling 661-868-3139 to leave a voicemail. or emailing redistricting@kerncounty.com.

The deadline to approve the final district lines is December 15th. So, between then and now, there are two more hearings scheduled one on November 8 and another on November 16th for community members to share their thoughts and for more staff presentations to the board.