Pasadena Redistricting Part 1
Every ten years, local governments use new census data to redraw their district lines to reflect how populations have changed. Boundaries are adjusted so that each district is substantially equal in population. In Pasadena, there are seven council districts and many factors will lead to changes including the population size.
The deadline for the City of Pasadena to adopt a new map is December 15, 2021. There is an election on June 7, 2022 and it is important that county registered voters have the needed information, including which voters are in particular districts for the election.
In June, the City launched a series of community workshops in each council district, to educate the public on the redistricting process.
Last week, First AME Church – Pasadena hosted an informational session led by Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Pasadena NAACP, Community Women Vital Voices, League of Women Voters, New Revelation Baptist Church, AME Zion Church, Calvary CME Church, and various neighborhood associations.
The meeting goals were to have a voice in the drawing of the city council district maps that will impact the community for the next 10 years, maximize effective representation of the Black community, and create a targeted map that will be submitted for consideration by the Pasadena City Council and a 12-member Redistricting Task Force which include appointees: former Mayor Terry Tornek, Patrice Marshall McKenzie, and Delano Yarbrough, former president of Pasadena NAACP.
There are federal and state laws that govern redistricting. The federal laws require that each district have equal population or close, to ensure fairness so each councilmember is representing approximately the same number of people, which is determined by an accurate and complete count of the census.
According to federal law, specifically, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when drawing district boundaries, the voting power of any protected class of voters cannot be diluted. Though race will be a consideration, it cannot be the only factor or even the predominant factor used in drawing district boundaries. That is how we avoid racial gerrymandering (pronounced with a hard “G” sound), in which district lines are drawn to favor one racial group over another.
The Fair Maps Act is a new law in the state of California that sets out a list of criteria that must be considered when drawing maps. This list is ranked in order of importance.
First, when drawing district maps, it is required that the districts are contiguous, which means the shape of the district must be connected, no breaks allowed. Second, is to minimize the division of neighborhoods and communities of interest. A community of interest is defined as a population that shares common social or economic interests and wants to be included within a single district, so that it can be represented by one councilmember.
The third criterion, is to create easily identifiable boundaries, such as along roads, highways, waterways or other landmarks so that voters can easily determine where their district ends and the next one begins. The fourth, requires that a district maintains compactness so that does not bypass a nearby population and wrap around it to take in a further away population.
Community input in this process is important because the lines of a political district can determine whether a community has opportunities to vote together to elect candidates who represent their interests, or whether they are divided up in ways that dilute their influence and their collective voice.
The line drawing process can be complicated and highly technical, and communities rarely have expertise on how to advance and protect their interests, so [community members may] join a community group and engage in this work together. Contact City-appointed Redistricting Taskforce members Delano Yarbrough or Patrice Marshall McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about redistricting, and voice your concerns, visit www.cityofpasadena.net/city-clerk/redistricting.