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Redistricting efforts at the federal, state, county and local levels will change the names and faces representing many East County residents in the new year.

Every 10 years, electoral districts across the state are redrawn using federal Census data. As the distribution of populations shifts, district boundaries are adjusted to ensure the state’s population is evenly allocated among the new districts. The process is complicated and can be, at times, contentious.

Locally, the City of Brentwood is in the middle of a process to redraw the lines for its four city council districts.

“Last fall, the city council opted not to be the decision maker on putting together the new maps, unlike what they had done in 2018 when they created the four districts,” said Brentwood City Manager Tim Ogden.

An independent, five-member Redistricting Commission was established to guide the city’s process. Community members applied for a seat on the commission and were chosen by retired Judge Thelton Henderson.

The goal of the redistricting is to make sure that each district has about the same number of people and to give communities of common interest a greater voice in choosing council representation.

The commission held public meetings in October and December. As of press time, a third meeting is scheduled for Jan. 13 during which 20 district maps will be reviewed; four drawn by the commission and 16 submitted by residents. The next public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 10.

“Based on feedback from the commission, the demographer will come back at the February meeting with a handful of maps that the commission will then approve and formally submit to the city council,” Ogden explained. “State law requires that they submit at least two. They may submit more. They will go to the City Council for a special meeting scheduled for March 3.

The Brentwood City Council will select the final map without making any changes during the March 3 meeting. If a decision cannot be reached then, a second special meeting is tentatively planned for March 10. The city has until April 17 to complete the process. The state will intervene and choose the final map for the city if a map is not adopted by council before the deadline.

Having recently adopted district representation, the City of Oakley is exempt from the current redistricting process, said City Manager Joshua McMurray.

“Oakley started the (district representation) process in July of last year,” he said. “It ended in December when the City Council formally adopted the district map and everything that goes along with it. We don’t have to (redistrict) for 10 years.”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors adopted revised borders for its five districts during the Nov. 23 board meeting. All of East County, with the exception of the waterfront area of Antioch, remains in District 3 represented by Supervisor Diane Burgis. The portion of Antioch not represented by Burgis is represented by Supervisor Federal Glover.

Responsibility for redistricting at the state level falls on the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. The passage of the Voters First Act in 2008 authorized the creation of the independent California Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw new state Senate, state Assembly and state Board of Equalization district lines. In 2010, the Voters First Act for Congress gave the commission the responsibility of drawing new Congressional districts following every Census.

“Composed of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four unaffiliated Californians, representing a variety of personal and professional backgrounds and different parts of the state, we come together to serve all of California in this important effort that only takes place every 10 years,” said Isra Ahmad, chair of the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission, upon submission of the final district maps to the California Secretary of State late last month. “We drew district maps in an open and transparent manner that did more than merely allow public input—we actively sought and encouraged broad public participation in the process through a massive education and outreach program, afforded to us by the delay in receiving the Census data.”

In accordance with the California Constitution, the commission followed these criteria, in this order, to draw district maps:

•Districts must be of equal population to comply with the U.S. Constitution.

•Districts must comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that minorities have an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice.

•Districts must be drawn contiguously, so that all parts of the district are connected to each other.

•Districts must minimize the division of cities, counties, neighborhoods and communities of interest to the extent possible.

•Districts should be geographically compact: such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for a more distant population. This requirement refers to density, not shape. Census blocks cannot be split.

Where practicable, each Senate District should be composed of two complete and adjacent Assembly Districts, and Board of Equalization districts should be composed of 10 complete and adjacent state Senate Districts.

In addition, the place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate may not be considered in the creation of a map, and districts may not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate, or political party.

U.S. Congressional representation for much of East County – Brentwood, Oakley, Bethel Island and a portion of Antioch – will shift from Rep. Jerry McNerney’s District 9 to District 10, currently represented by Democrat Josh Harder. Harder’s term expires this year, and he has announced that he will seek election in District 13, which includes his hometown of Turlock. Changes to congressional representation become effective with the swearing in of the election winners on Jan. 23, 2023. Discovery Bay will remain in District 9, where McNerney is also up for reelection this year. The waterfront area of Antioch will be represented in District 8.

While previously represented in the state Senate by Sen. Steve Glazer, all of East County with the exception of Antioch will transition to Senate District 3, currently represented by Sen. Bill Dodd. Dodd’s term expires in 2024. Antioch will fall under Senate District 9, currently represented by Sen. Nancy Skinner. Skinner’s term also expires in 2024.

Residents of East County will also see changes in their representation in the state Assembly. Brentwood and Antioch will become part of Assembly District 15, currently represented by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks from Oakland, whose term expires this year. Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island and Byron will remain in Assembly District 11, previously represented by Assemblymember Jim Frazier. Frazier retired from the Assembly at the end of December. His term would have expired in 2022. A plan to fill his seat in the interim has not yet been announced.

For more information on the redistricting process in the City of Brentwood, visit https://bit.ly/thePress_brentwooddistricts. Copies of the 20 maps planned for discussion during the Brentwood Redistricting Commission meeting on Jan. 13 can be found here in the meeting’s agenda packet: https://bit.ly/thePress_maps. For more information on California’s redistricting process, visit https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/.

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