Updated: Jan 26
Thank you for all the wonderful contributions of the following people for helping to put this piece together:
Andrés Ramos - Community Advocate Cha Vang - Deputy Director at AAPIs (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) For Civic Empowerment - Education Fund
What is meant by redistricting?
Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau completes a census of the U.S. population. Based on this data, cities must redraw their council district lines to ensure equal populations in each district.
How does redistricting work at the County level?
At the County level, the Board of Supervisors is in charge of redrawing district lines.
What happened at the County?
The Board of Supervisors adopted the Final Map at its Dec. 7 meeting at 2 p.m.
Sacramento County's redistricting process was politics as usual. Unlike the state or city, the county doesn't have an independent commission, so the Board of Supervisors drew their own district boundaries.
As can be expected when politicians get to pick their own voters, the line-drawing came down to horse-trading among the supervisors rather than drawing lines that best reflected the community's expressed priorities.
From the start, the process was not very transparent and there was limited public participation. For example, the county set a deadline for public map submissions that was not even posted on their redistricting website. Information about the deadline was buried in a PowerPoint presentation that required navigating multiple webpages to even find. Unsurprisingly, when the deadline came only 9 maps were initially submitted by the public--a few of which were multiple submissions from individual submitters. Even more concerning, when the public submitted written comment or called in during the hearings, the supervisors basically ignored public input.
For example, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community provided extensive input, including a joint letter, asking that their communities in Elk Grove, Florin, and Vineyard be kept together in District 5 (Don Nottoli's district). Various community members from throughout the county called in during the board's redistricting hearing in support of the AAPI community's request. However, the supervisors did not incorporate their request or even give it any serious discussion. Only Supervisor Patrick Kennedy spoke up for the AAPI community and asked that their input be considered.
Instead, the supervisors spent most of their time advocating for what they wanted in their own districts and very little discussion about what the community wanted or the public comment that was given. The final map was approved by a vote of 4 to 1, and is substantially the same as it was before.
The biggest change is that the City of Rancho Cordova, which was previously entirely in District 5 (Don Nottoli), is now split between Districts 3 (Rich Desmond) and 5 (Don Nottoli). Smaller changes were also made, such as moving most of North Highlands from District 3 (Rich Desmond) to District 4 (Sue Frost) and moving Sac State from District 3 (Rich Desmond) to District 1 (Phil Serna).
Supervisor Kennedy for voted against the final map, arguing that it did not adequately address the AAPI community's concerns and that his request to move his boundary northward to unify all of Land Park within his district was not incorporated into the final map. Lastly, he suggested that the county consider creating an independent redistricting commission going forward for the 2031 redistricting.
In summary, the county's redistricting continues to be a flawed political process that prioritizes what the Board of Supervisors wants over the community's needs. The map itself is not too different from the current map and will likely not result in a significant difference in the supervisorial races on the ballot in 2022. But it does provide a good opportunity for the community to recognize that this process needs a serious upgrade. As Supervisor Kennedy suggested, the county should consider adopting an independent redistricting commission process for subsequent redistricting starting in 2031 to ensure that community voices are heard and prioritized in the drawing of supervisorial district boundaries.
What’s next for the County?
It's important that we continue to track County BOS agendas for items regarding the creation of an independent redistricting committee. It is also crucial that we communicate our desire for that outcome with our Supervisors as frequently as possible.
Find your supervisor here:
District 1: Phil Serna
District 2: Patrick Kennedy
District 3: Rich Desmond