Establish an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission

By Steve Danon

Every 10 years, following the federal Census, the County of San Diego is called upon to redistrict the five supervisorial districts to equalize population. Section 400.1 of the County Charter allows members of the Board of Supervisors to determine their own districts. I read in [a newspaper recently] that County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, “support(s) using an independent commission to redraw the county lines.” However, her actions spoke differently when she authored a board letter (proposal) on Dec. 7, 2010 (Item 17) for the Board of Supervisors “to initiated the 2011 redistricting process pursuant to which the Board of Supervisors will evaluate and adjust, as necessary, the boundaries of the five supervisorial districts in San Diego County based on the 2010 federal decennial census data.”

California voters authorized the creation of the Citizens Redistricting Commission when they passed the Voters FIRST Act (Proposition 11) in 2008 to remove the politicians from the process of drawing their own districts. Under the Act, the Commission is charged with drawing the boundaries of California’s congressional, Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization electoral districts.

If the state of California can do it, we certainly ought to be able to do it for San Diego County. I strongly believe that voters should elect their county supervisors, rather than county supervisors selecting their voters. County Supervisor Pam-Slater Price had nearly 20 years to reform this process, but chose not to make a difference. We need a true Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for San Diego County.

While this will not remove politics completely from the process, it will eliminate the system of elected officials establishing their own districts. Pamela Karlan, Professor of Public Interest Law at Stanford Law School, said, “It used to be that the idea was, once every two [or four] years voters elected their representatives, and now, instead, it’s every 10 years the representatives choose their constituents.” It’s time for that system to end.

By creating an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, we can put an end to the inherent conflict of interest that exists when Supervisors have the power to create districts designed to help them get reelected. If incumbent Pam Slater-Price doesn’t bring forward a proposal to change the redistricting process, and I have the opportunity to represent the residents of the Third Supervisorial District, I plan on bringing forward a proposal to establish an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to change the process for the next redistricting.

To further accountability, transparency and the public trust in local government, I strongly support an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for the County of San Diego that focuses on population, geography and communities of interest, not on the self-interests of the incumbent Supervisors.

Steve Danon is a former member of the board of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association and is a candidate for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, District 3 in 2012.