Supervisor Larry Johnston’s reference to Shakespeare wasn’t just a clever quip. He had genuine concerns whether concept B as presented was the right way to go, or whether a variation was needed, as Mono County’s Board of Supervisors edged closer to completing the its redistricting work. On Tuesday, the Board kicked off the first of two required public hearings with all three options in play. The Board’s goal: whittle those down to one final concept for deliberation during the next public hearing.
Odd district splits, particularly in one Mammoth neighborhood north of Meridian and another along the town’s Main Street, generated perceived breaks in cohesiveness that didn’t sit well with Johnston. Board Chair Hap Hazard opined the jags were part of an “imperfect system,” that is prevalent in the entire state. Supervisor Vikki Bauer strongly advocated leaving the lines as they are, saying the Mammoth subcommittee that was formed as part of the County’s Redistricting Committee had done its due diligence. Redrawing the lines, she thought, could be construed as a form of gerrymandering.
Johnston disagreed, saying he thought it wasn’t right to simply accept the subcommittee’s ideas without question.
Public “lack of” comment …
“To date we’ve had more supervisor comment than public comment,” Bauer observed, but the few members of the public who chimed in on the debate leaned heavily toward option B. Fred Stump from Long Valley quipped that concept A would require a “high-speed rail between Chalfant and Topaz,” and thought C, the so-called radial concept, would fracture Mammoth too much. Tim Fesko, who originally was interested in a radial approach, also supported B, adding that, “it makes sense to have Mono City and Lee Vining [in] the same district as June Lake.”
Bob Peters, Chair of the Redistricting Committee, said B provided the best balance between Mammoth and the unincorporated areas. He also criticized C for splitting Mammoth and June Mountain ski areas into separate districts.
Steve Noble said he wasn’t necessarily concerned with who specifically represented him. “If I have an issue, I’m going to talk to all of you. If you can’t think outside your district and about what’s best for the entire county, you shouldn’t be in that seat,” he stated. “We have to bite the bullet and in 10 years we’re going to have to do it again. We have to come together and think about what’s best for Mono County.”
Bridging the “continental divide?”
Supervisor Byng Hunt indicated that, although his constituents lobbied him heavily for an A or B2 version, perhaps a B compromise was “a way for Mammoth and the north county to connect and realize the benefits of working together.”
Hansen wasn’t in favor of any of the options. The north county, he thought, was pretty cut up. “I’m not asking for any of this to be redone,” he said, but also said he wasn’t going to “voluntarily water down” his district. Hansen added he’d like a second look at option B2, and was willing to drop Concept A. “That’s not me talking, it’s whoever will represent this district in the future.”
B, Johnston opined, has a fatal flaw. “You’re taking part of Mammoth’s Main Street, along with its 700 people and [various Town facilities], and giving it to a representative who potentially could be elected by Walker, Coleville or Bridgeport.” That, he said, wouldn’t be acceptable in any other community.
He proposed a B2 that didn’t split Mammoth’s Main Street. “The idea of a compromise is a good one, if we go with a B-type concept, but for me, you don’t split the main street of a town. You can sneak into it in different ways, which B2 does.”
Bauer acknowledged the split is huge … “a continental divide,” in terms of responsibilities to constituents in both Mammoth and the unincorporated parts of the county.
“But I know my voters pretty well,” she said, “and on social services or federal issues, I think they’d be appreciative of having another north county Board member to hear their voices. I have to believe there’s benefit to those people living on the other side of Main Street that will like having the ear of another Mono County supervisor.”
Keeping a B2 concept on the table failed 3-2, with supporters Hansen and Johnston in the minority.
The Board will take up the draft of concept B next Tuesday during its regular meeting in Bridgeport, though the ordinance can still be withdrawn for rewriting and more public input. A third hearing, generated by the need for a second procedural reading, will be added for Aug. 16 in Mammoth.