The Redlands City Council’s actions in the districting process show a disregard of public input.
They unanimously selected the voting district map options -- developed by their consultant -- that define three or four districts in the town’s southmost side, and rejected options -- submitted by citizens -- that are based on the town’s demographics.
By choosing the consutant's maps, they prevent a situation where two or three councilmembers might have to compete for the same district seat in the future. It makes their re-election a much easier task.
In many ways, this is a slap to the democratic process.
Our elected “representation” has acted in opposition to the spirit of the California Voting Rights Act it is pretending to acquiesce to. They are ostensibly taking this step to prevent the city from being sued, which this board agrees is a smart move.
But the maps submitted by citizens were better.
They are drawn acknowledging that the point of the change to district based elections is to give the perspectives of each area of town a voice in our government.
There are not enough diverse perspectives in South Redlands to justify dividing the town with so many north-south lines.
Women, the non-affluent, people of color and young parents are not in evidence on that dais the way they are in our community. Those who live in the Historic District, near the university or in housing tracts are not in evidence.
It can not legitimately be argued our sitting council can speak or argue empathically on behalf of all of Redlands.
Four of the five councilmembers reside within two miles of one another. Yet the maps they voted for have the current councilmembers living in separate districts.
We should not have three boundaries that divide Redlands south of Highland Avenue. Those districts comprise primarily white voters who have historically voted for white candidates, which contradicts the spirit and intent of the California Voters Rights Act.
If the lowest property-value neighborhoods are in the same voting district as downtown, warehouses or wealthier neighborhoods, their candidates are set up to be competing against candidates with more money and influence. The Reiter Map is the only option that eliminates that scenario. The Layne map is the only one that combines all of the commercial areas in one district.
Staying on this course will mean continued limited diversity on our City Council. It means our current representation is our future.
And it means we accept being ignored when we take the time to participate.
All five of our councilmembers voted for versions of their consultant’s maps despite the many superior options developed by citizens and citizen groups who care about supporting the richness of diversity in Redlands.
The final public hearing on this issue is at the Feb. 21 City Council meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. They could adopt one of the maps at that time.
Redlands citizens deserve better from their elected officials.
Here is how they voted:
Disclosure: Editorial Board member Mike Layne is among those who submitted a map that was not chosen.
All of the map options
Click on right or left edges of large image to scroll through the choices.
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