“Geographic integrity.” It’s one of the cornerstones of redrawing political districts.
Geographic integrity means not arbitrarily dividing up neighborhoods, and not diluting the voting power of black or Latino or other groups by gerrymandering those voting blocks apart. It goes hand in hand with the concept of “communities of interest.”
For example, there’s been a push to unify downtown and Midtown into one city council district.
But when it comes to redrawing state Assembly districts, we’re going in the opposite direction—by slicing the city of Sacramento into pieces.
Right now, most of the city (except North Natomas) is within Assembly District 9, currently represented by Roger Dickinson. The district boundaries and the city boundaries are very similar. See, geographic integrity.
But under the draft plan by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Sacramento would be split into three districts, and the different slices of the city would be combined with far-flung areas they have little in common with.
It’s a pretty clear violation of the principles of Proposition 11, the 2008 ballot measure which created the commission in the first place.
Curtis Park, parts of Land Park, downtown, Midtown and parts north would be put in a district that stretches deep into Yolo County and includes the city of Davis.
Hollywood Park, South Land Park, South Sacramento, the Pocket, etc., would all be lumped into an Assembly district with Elk Grove. Meanwhile, the Fab 40s, Tahoe Park and points east would be bitten off and tossed willy-nilly into an Assembly district with Rancho Cordova and El Dorado Hills.
The Sacramento Bee editorialized that the commission “got it right” with their maps. Mostly the Bee seemed pleased that the plan would screw incumbents such as Dickinson, along with Assembly members Mariko Yamada and Richard Pan, who would all get drawn into the same district.
But Proposition 11 is really very clear about the need to maintain “geographic integrity” where possible.
In fact, in the opening graphs of Prop. 11, the authors complain about the past practice of breaking cities into “multiple oddly shaped districts.”
“We need reform to keep our communities together so everyone has representation,” the measure continues.
“They in no way respected the language of the initiative,” said Dan Roth, a local Democratic Party activist, adding that the maps seem to follow “no natural borders at all.” And Roth noted these proposed maps create the possibility of having no Assembly member from Sacramento at all. (By the same token, Bites figures, we could end up with three Assembly members from Sacramento.)
Kerri Asbury, chairwoman of the Sacramento County Democratic Party, is a bit more sanguine. “I think it’s part of being a very populous county,” she told Bites, noting that Sacramento is just too big to fit within one Assembly district.
And she likes the idea of having downtown Sacramento and West Sacramento in one district. “It makes sense to have someone represent both sides of the river there.”
Meanwhile, Elk Grove City Councilwoman Sophia Scherman, a conservative Republican, thinks she’s got a pretty good shot at winning an Assembly seat in that newly drawn South Sac/Elk Grove district—which includes Bites’ neighborhood. Yikes.
Scherman told the Elk Grove Citizen: “We’ve been split for so long. We’re the second largest city in the (Sacramento) region. We ought to be whole.”
Yeah, you ought to be.