Ideology above citizen input

Progressives mar the districting process to protect their own

The author is a transportation planner, cartographer, musician, environmentalist and vice chair of the Chico Planning Commission.

Healthy boundaries are important. That’s why I created the Goldstein 1 and Goldstein 2 district election maps, and why I’m angry about the Chico City Council’s short-sighted decision to base districts on preserving a progressive majority rather than on watersheds and demographics.

When it was announced that the city would have to hold district elections, word spread quickly through my politically conscious friends. On Halloween night, dressed as Creedence from Troll 2, I met with several members of the Chico chapter of Democratic Socialists of America at Duffy’s and thus the Democratize Chico Working Group was born. As the person in the group with GIS experience and access to software, I volunteered to develop maps based on group input. The Goldstein maps were developed with our neighborhoods, waterways and demographics in mind.

All maps were supposed to be given equal weight, yet the public’s maps were not displayed at the council meeting on Jan. 7 unless their creators showed up, shutting out the input of any member of the public who may have submitted a map but works nights or has a family to feed. Public maps also weren’t included in the staff report for the Jan. 21 meeting.

Many things smelled fishy about the process. Councilman Karl Ory stated in a Facebook group that his goal was to maintain a progressive majority. Then, at the Jan. 21 meeting, he wasted no time pretending to consider any maps other than Plan Lavender. Not only that—the boundary for District 7 is placed adjacent to the census block where Rich Ober resides, which appears to have been designed so that he won’t have to run against an incumbent progressive.

I, too, am afraid of a conservative majority, but what is the point of preserving a “progressive” majority that cares more about maintaining the power of status quo incumbents than addressing real issues like affordable housing, tenant protections and police brutality?

It was lovely seeing our divided community brought together by something I created. My time as the People’s Demographer has come to a close. Until next time.