An applicant’s overview of the Citizens Redistricting Commission

See update below:

Last December I joined thousands of other Californians and applied for consideration to serve on the first Citizen redistricting commission. “We Draw the Lines,” an effort created by Prop 11, the voters FIRST Act, and supported by voters in approval of Prop 20 last month.

When that deadline to serve on this commission closed there were 30,725 applications received including 80 from Mission Viejo.

Having gone through the process I wish to commend the panel of three auditors, Kerri Spano, Nasir Ahmadi and Ms. Camacho who reviewed our applications and conducted the Webinars.

During the June 11th Webinar meeting one board member acknowledged their challenge stating “I can’t tell you this is going to be a perfect process.”

At one stage there were 622 applicants still under consideration who received one or more favorable recommendations from the panel. The auditors were charged with consideration of party affiliation, race/ethnicity, gender, geographic and economic status.

In reviewing the demographics of that report, Orange County, with 3 million residents, had 27 candidates or 4.34% while Sacramento, with a population of 1.4 million had 63 candidates or 10.13%. Yes, we are looking at “diversity.”

A later report, with 36 names acceptable to our state legislature leadership, contains only one name, Michael Ward, representing Orange County. On that same report, the city of Oakland, lists three potential candidates.

The application to serve on this commission was extremely informative. In addition to the basic question of why you wish to serve on the Commission we were required to complete essay questions on our ability to be impartial, our appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and to confirm our analytical skills.

We were also required to provide extensive information on our eduction, employment history, activities, financial contributions and specifics on every living family member.

In addition we were to provide three letters of recommendation that support our ability to be open to diversity in carrying out the duties in serving on the commission.

We were told to acknowledge that this is a major commitment.

Do we have “the time, qualifications, and commitment to perform the high-profile work of a commissioner. The process for determining the districts and coming to a final agreement on the maps for those districts must occur in an 8 1/2 month period that starts January 1, 2011, and ends September 15, 2011, with a presentation of the final maps to the Secretary of State for certification.”

Creating a fair and balanced commission is virtually impossible when you must consider candidates by geographic region, ethnicity (White, Asian, Black or Hispanic/Latino), party affiliation, (5 Democrat, 5 Republican and 4 Decline to State), to gender to satisfy the charge of diversity.

While the barriers are not perfect, I fully support having private citizens serve on this commission. I read several of their applications and found them to be well qualified to serve.

Update: In the Dec 14th Sac Bee Dan Walters points ot the inbalance between White members v. Asians on the

proposed commission panel.

As of April 27th there were 1185 tentatively eligibleAsian men and Asian women as compared to 17747 Whites yet their

are  only 3 whites on the commission. At times we can take diversity to questionable extremes.

About Larry Gilbert