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Pedro Toledo, Petaluma health care official, named to state redistricting panel

Common Cause executive director Jonathan Mehta Stein complimented the board’s first eight members for “building a commission that looked a lot like California,” including ethnic minorities, LGBTQ members and people with disabilities. But Stein also noted that Latinos were underrepresented in the pool of applicants “from the very beginning.” “We absolutely could still do better,” he said.

CA120: Say hello to the ‘Lucky Eight’

While the Latino pool had been cut in half, there was still a 90.4% chance, according to Jonathan Stein of Common Cause, that the random draw would select at least one Latino. Yet, against those odds, and much to the consternation of many involved in the process, the first eight selected included zero Latino commissioners.

USC Study Recommends Changes in Selection of Redistricting Commissioners

“The removal of seven of the 14 Latinx finalists by legislative leaders has been controversial, especially because the strikes are shrouded in secrecy, compared to an otherwise transparent selection process,” said Kathay Feng, Common Cause national redistricting and representation director. “The closed-door striking of finalists … leaves open the question of why so many qualified Latinx applicants were removed from the pool, undermining the voters’ mandate of creating a commission that reflects the state’s racial and ethnic diversity.”

Tensions mount over who will draw California’s new political maps

“The legislative strikes could have increased the Latino percentage further,” he said. “Not only did they not do that, they made Latino underrepresentation worse. There were truly exceptional Latinos and Latinas removed by the Legislature.”

Few Latino Residents Are Applying to Take Part in Redistricting

“We want people who are qualified and know their communities, but we also want people who reflect the community that the commission serves,” said Kiyana Asemanfar, policy manager for California Common Cause, a nonprofit group that assists cities with redistricting outreach. “That’s why we put such a heavy emphasis on the recruitment period. It’s difficult to achieve a representative commission if you don’t begin with a representative applicant pool.”

New Leader of Common Cause – Census Champion Wants a Democracy that Hears Every Single Voice

“We had this sense that participation matters.” Stein emphasized census participation as a priority because data the Census Bureau is collecting will not only inform how the federal government will spend more than $1.5 trillion annually over the next ten years. It will also form the basis for U.S. Congressional apportionment decisions and individual states’ redistricting plans.

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