Mono Redistricting Committee formed, given green flag to start work
It’s off to the races for Mono County’s Redistricting Advisory Committee. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved the 10 members selected to serve on the committee, and set some basic guidelines for its operation.
County Geographic Information System Specialist Nate Greenberg said that after looking at the data, redistricting at first appeared easy, but it’s really not. At least three of the four supervisorial districts need to be adjusted. District 2 is in the clear, within tolerances, but Greenberg pointed out that District 4 poses the biggest challenge. Supervisor Tim Hansen, Greenberg said, needs to pick up about 300 voters. The good news, relatively speaking, is that Mammoth area districts can probably be ironed out with mostly minimal “shuffling around,” he added.
The Board settled on limiting the number of redistricting options the committee can bring back to them to three “very distinct” scenarios. Supervisor Byng Hunt suggested only having two, but the Board generally agreed that three allowed more flexibility. It will be up to the committee to draw up as many different options as it sees fit, and then decide which three are the most reasonable.
Legally speaking, John-Carl Vallejo from the County Counsel’s Office advised the Board it’s only required to have two hearings, one preliminary and another final when reviewing the options.
The location and number of public meetings isn’t clearly defined yet. The Board wants at least one meeting in each district, but there may be more meetings in Mammoth, and June Lake, and the supervisors acknowledged that Crowley Lake and Tri-Valley may want at least two meetings.
“We don’t know what the districts are going to look like when this is all done; we might all be in Mammoth,” Hazard quipped. Hunt warned against over-scheduling the meetings. “You start having 6, 7, 8 meetings, no one’s going to show up; less is more in some cases,” he advised. “These members are volunteers, and not all of them are going to be able to attend a whole slew of meetings.” The Board decided to mandate a minimum of one meeting in each district, with more as appropriate on a district-by-district basis, at the committee’s discretion.
In terms of concepts, Greenberg and Vallejo said there are about six rough drafts of concepts the committee can use as templates for their work. All six preliminary concepts have various pluses and minuses; the simplest one calls for splitting June Lake in half to solve District 4’s problems, but even that has a variety of resulting consequences. Another more dramatic concept would be expanding District 4 south and picking up part of Tri-Valley, such as Benton and Hammil. That sets off a chain of events that upsets other apple carts.
Greenberg indicted the most complex one is the radial approach. “Numerically it can work, but geographically it’s got a lot of puzzle pieces that don’t appear to fit, with lots of geography parts with very few voters in those chunks,” he said. The committee, is however, free to use a “blank slate” option, which would include any ideas the members come up with. No dates for meetings and locations have been discussed, but Vallejo said the hope is to hold the first meeting within the next few weeks.
The Board called for all public hearings to be completed by the end of June, and for the committee to make its initial presentation in early July.
No fall special elections have been set by the state as of yet, but if there is one, the Board voiced concerns about how redistricting would impact the manner in which supervisor of Elections Lynda Roberts sets voter districts.
The Board must submit its final decision no later than Nov. 1, but is planning on completing its work well before that, if at all possible by its third meeting in August (Aug. 16), in order to provide as much assistance to Roberts as possible.
Roberts said she’s ready to roll with any changes. “We’ll work with what we have to, but if we have to change precincts, we’ll do what it takes to get the job done.”
The Committee members are: District 1 – Jose Garcia, Chris Carmichael; District 2 – Rick Phelps, Cindy Kitts; District 3 – Brent Harper, Rob Morgan; District 4 – Sally Miller, Bob Peters; District 5 – Bill Taylor, Tony Taylor (no relation).