BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — One public hearing remains before Kern County redraws district lines based on the 2020 US Census. As the county is a month away from officially drawing new lines, debate continues in tonight's public hearing.
As board members point out, the only main difference between this is plan A is the lower line drawn down slightly cut voter deviation in half.
It’s the equality plan that caused things to get heated during public comment.
“The sins of your fathers is why we continue to live the way we live,” said a Kern resident during public comment.
As Kern County residents expressed at the podium choosing a redistricting plan, post-2020 census is more than lines drawn on a map. It impacts everyday neighborhoods within Kern County’s five districts and the citizens within them.
Monday night’s public hearing is the second to last before the Kern County Board of Supervisors adopt one of five redistricting plans by December 16th. One of the major impacts the equity map coalition points out is voter turnout.
“If we have 54 percent of folks in Kern County that are Latino, then we should have them be able to decide who represents them., said a Kern resident during public comment. "In the past, you've drawn maps that don't allow that to happen."
Supervisors explained that with the updated 2020 census, whatever plan they choose is aimed to be equitable and fair, especially with consideration of voting rights concerns.
As per the state’s fair maps act of 2019, redistricting must be driven by the community and public participation. Supervisors are also required to minimize division between local communities of interest. A community of interest, “is a population that shares common social or economic interests that should be included within a single supervisorial district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.”
One plan dominated the conversation, the equity map coalition. Their representative mentioned the importance of recognizing constitutionally protected classes, or people of color in the redistricting process. Especially as the coalition points out, the 2020 census recently found more than half of Kern County is Hispanic/Latino.
“Guess what folks? People have been unconstitutionally treated in this county and throughout the nation for years," said a Kern resident during public comment.
The Equity Map Coalition also pointed out that current district lines favor affluent communities in Kern with the most voting power while many in public comment seemed to favor the EMP plan, some constituents made their disagreements with some of their statements known.
“It’s not a matter of color of skin it’s about community working together,” said a Kern resident.