Note: Originally posted on APAs for Progress. This article has been re-posted with the permission of the authors.
Every ten years, we draw new district maps for Congress, the California legislature, county boards of supervisors, and city councils. These maps show the boundaries of each district. When we redraw the maps every ten years, we change the boundaries so that each district contains the same number of people. This process is called redistricting.
The next time redistricting will happen is in 2011, and because California voters passed Proposition 11 in 2008, there will be a major change in who draws the maps.
Proposition 11 creates a new commission made up of citizens. In 2011, the commission will draw new maps for the state legislature and Board of Equalization. Before Proposition 11, the state legislature drew these maps.
Why does this matter? In past redistrictings, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities have been fragmented by district boundaries. For example, in the 2001 redistricting, the San Jose neighborhood of Berryessa was split among four State Assembly districts, even though over half of Berryessa’s population is AAPI.
District boundaries that split AAPI communities like this weaken the political voice of AAPI communities. When AAPI communities are fragmented, they do not make up a significant portion of any one district. This diminishes their ability to get their elected representatives to address their needs.
The commission will play an important role in determining whether AAPI communities are again fragmented unfairly in 2011, or instead kept whole. To make sure that the commission takes AAPI communities into account, we need the right people on the commission – individuals who are civic-minded, come from diverse backgrounds, and understand community needs.
Who will be on the commission? The commission will have 14 members who are selected from people who apply to be on the commission.
The application process is open to the public. Anyone can apply as long as they meet the minimum requirements to be on the commission, such as being a registered voter and having voted in at least two of the last three statewide general elections (November 2004, November 2006, and November 2008). There are also some rules that exclude people from being eligible for commission if they have a so-called conflict of interest, as well as some restrictions on the future political activities of individuals once they are appointed to the commission.
What will the commission do? The commission will hold public meetings across California to listen to testimony from residents about their communities and neighborhoods. Based on data it gathers, the commission will draw new district maps for the State Assembly, State Senate, and the Board of Equalization (an elected state tax agency).
The commissioners are paid $300 per day when doing commission business. The main period of activity for the commission will be from January 2011 to September 2011. The commissioners can expect to work between 10 to 40 hours per week.
The deadline to apply for the commission is February 12, 2010. You can find more information about the commission and the application process at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.
What can you do to help? You may be the right person for the commission – or you may know someone who is.
As of December 21, 2009 over 3,000 individuals have applied, but less than 3% of those applicants are Asian American Pacific Islander. To view the statistics of who has applied visit: https://application.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/statistics
The Asian Law Caucus can be a resource for you – we are working with a statewide network of AAPI organizations to help people learn more about the commission and how to apply.
In January 2010, the members of the network will hold a series of workshops across the state. To see a list of workshops and learn more about the network, you can go to www.facebook.com/capafr2011.
Asian Law Alliance (ALA), Asian Law Caucus (ALC), and East Bay Asian Voter Education Consortium (EBAVEC) will conduct application workshops in the Bay Area during January and the first part of February to provide interested individuals with information about the commission and assistance with the application process. ALA, ALC and EBAVEC have scheduled the following workshops:
San Francisco Workshop Hosted by Asian Law Caucus
Date: January 9, 2010, from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Rosenberg Foundation, Conference Room
131 Steuart Street, Suite 650
San Francisco, CA 94105
Carlo de la Cruz, email@example.com or (415) 896-1701 ext. 121
Alameda County Workshop Hosted by East Bay Asian Voter Education Consortium
Date: January 10, 2010, from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm (lunch provided)
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
Conference Room 2
388 Ninth Street, Oakland, CA 94607
Emily Chang, firstname.lastname@example.org or (925) 933-6778
San Jose Workshop Hosted by Asian Law Alliance
Date: January 12, 2010, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Asian Americans for Community Involvement
2400 Moorpark Avenue, Room 210
San Jose, CA 95128
Jacquelyn Maruhashi, email@example.com or (408) 287-9710
To attend a workshop in your area, please RSVP to the contact person listed on the scheduleof workshops. Or if you have suggestions for people who might be good applicants for the commission, please let us know as well. You can contact ALC at firstname.lastname@example.org