LONG BEACH, Monday, July 30, 2018 – California Common Cause and Equity for Cambodians are inviting community members to a public forum August 4 to learn more about how a proposal to create an independent citizens redistricting commission to draw Long Beach City Council districts will make redistricting more responsive to Long Beach communities. The Long Beach City Council is poised to ask voters to end political gerrymandering in its city by placing the proposal on the November ballot.
Current Long Beach law creates a conflict of interest in which members of the City Council draw their own council districts. Federal law requires the redrawing of districts after each decennial census to account for changes in population. Following the 2010 census, Long Beach’s Cambodian community, for instance, was divided into four districts, which diluted their political power. For the past six months this community, organized as Equity for Cambodians, has been working to correct that injustice.
“To put it plainly, the system we use now permits politicians to choose their voters, instead of the voters choosing their politicians,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.
The proposed citizens redistricting commission, which requires City Council approval to be placed on the November ballot, would include 13 commissioners who may not be recent donors, candidates, lobbyists, campaign workers, or other political insiders. Commissioners would be required to draw boundaries using criteria that prioritize the needs of communities and that prohibit advantaging or disadvantaging any candidate, incumbent, or party. All communications to and from commissioners and staff about redistricting would have to take place at a public meeting or through written public comment.
California Common Cause worked with Long Beach through its Local Redistricting Project, a partnership with the McGeorge School of Law, that provides resources to localities seeking to reform the process for redistricting and Equity for Cambodians to create a new redistricting model. Working with the Mayor’s and Eighth district council office, this partnership drafted a proposed charter amendment to create an independent commission modeled on the City of Sacramento and California’s statewide Citizens Redistricting Commission and adopted amendments based on feedback from Common Cause and community leaders.
MEDIA ADVISORY & CALENDAR LISTING
WHO: California Common Cause, Equity for Cambodians and members of the public
WHAT: Community forum on the City of Long Beach Citizens Redistricting Commission
WHERE: MAYE Center, 2153 E. Anaheim Street, Long Beach WHEN: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, August 4
WHY: The forum will feature presentations on the history of redistricting in Long Beach, the Local Redistricting Project and the proposed ballot initiative, as well as a question and answer period. The aim is to fully inform voters on how they can end gerrymandering in Long Beach and have more power and control over the drawing of district maps.