APALC Encourages Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to Apply for California’s New Redistricting Commission

APALC Encourages Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

to Apply for California’s New Redistricting Commission

Deadline to Apply Is February 12, 2010

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 (an elected state tax agency).  Before Proposition 11, the state legislature drew these maps.

Why do redistricting and the new redistricting commission 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 into account the needs of AAPI communities, 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, although there are 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.  There are also some rules that exclude persons from being eligible for commission if they have a so-called conflict of interest.

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.

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 commission will set its own schedule, and the time commitment will vary depending on how often the commission decides to meet.

Where can I learn more about the commission and how to apply?

Because of the important role that the commission will play in the next round of redistricting, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) is working with several AAPI groups across the state to increase awareness of the commission and encourage AAPI individuals to apply.

These efforts are being conducted under the auspices of the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans for Fair Redistricting (CAPAFR), and include holding a series of workshops across the state to provide information about the commission and assistance on the application form.

To learn more about CAPAFR, you can go to www.facebook.com/capafr2011.  To see a schedule of workshops, you can visitwww.tinyurl.com/capafrworkshops.  You can also contact redistricting@apalc.org.

To fill out an application form, please visit www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.

How many applicants have applied so far?

The application period began on December 15, 2009 and ends on February 12, 2010.  So far over 5,600 individuals have submitted applications.  However, as of January 10, 2010, only 4% of those individuals are AAPI.   The most up-to-date numbers can be found athttps://application.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/statistics.

What can I do to help?

You may be the right person for the commission – or you may know someone who is.  Please consider attending a workshop to find out more about the commission and how to apply.  Or if you have suggestions for people who might be good applicants for the commission, please let us know.

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