Press "Enter" to skip to content

El Cajon reconsiders redistricting study

After deciding not to move forward with the cost of more in-depth information provided by National Demographic Corporation in the final phases of the 2020 redistricting process at its Oct. 26 meeting, El Cajon City Council voted unanimously to hire NDC for additional demographic services at a special City Council meeting on Nov. 9. The cost of the additional services is $20,000.

At the Oct. 26 meeting, City Council received an update on its current redistricting process after receiving 2020 Census data in late September. Working with National Demographic Corporation which the city retained in 2017, NDC found that the city’s current population deviation, the difference between the most populous and least populous districts, stands at 5.35%. This value is within the 10% threshold and the districts are not legally required to be redrawn to comply with the federal equal population requirement. The final redistricting district map must be approved by April 17, 2022, to comply with election laws. The current district boundary map was approved by the city council in June 2017 using 2010 census data, supplemented by 2017 demographic estimates.

City Manager Graham Mitchell said on Oct. 26, the council opted not to use NDC’s additional demographic services, but during the Nov. 4 redistricting public hearing, community members suggested that the council should reconsider the decision and that there was unanimous consent to bring the matter back before reconsideration.

Graham said on Oct. 26, staff presented council with a current council districting map which complied with state and federal law because the population remained in the boundaries.

“Based on that affirmation, staff took that as that there were no other additional maps that the City Council wanted to draw as to competitive alternative maps to the city’s existing map,” he said.

Graham said staff reiterated that the city would continue to accept alternative maps from the community that would reply on a software program called District R and that Council directed staff not to consider purchasing an additional mapping software program Maptitude because it would not provide much additional data than what District R provides. He said the third consideration was whether to utilize additional mapping services from NDC.

“District R only provides generalized demographic data,” he said. “But it does not break down the demographic data like voter turnout, ethnicity breakdown, ages, educational obtainment, household income, languages spoken at home, etc. All the things that you are used to seeing as part the 2017 process.”

Graham reminded Council that there is no legal requirement to provide the service. He said if Council utilizes NDC services, the cost to the city would be an additional $20,000.

Policy Associate Jeanine Erikat, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, said it has worked hard with the Majdal Center to ensure that its communities have access to participate in the redistricting process. She urged the council in hiring the additional services of NDC, and to take input of communities of interest as district boundaries are considered.

“Despite the fact that the lines drawn in 2017 are equally balanced, they were adopted under a different legal landscape,” she said. “Council also has to consider demographic data that applies to the federal Voting Rights Act and how data applies to communities of interests’ testimony for the Fair Maps Act.”

Majdal Center Advocacy Coordinator Yasmeen Obeid said she was thankful that Council was revisiting this after seeing their community presences at the Nov. 4 redistricting hearing.

“It is really critical that you reconsider hiring NDC,” she said. “Our communities have continuously showed up from the first redistricting hearing. This past Thursday we had over 17 speakers from our community that have expressed the interest and importance of taking our community’s input into account and that is by hiring NDC as a first step. But also, by keeping an open mind until this process is complete. We have one more hearing on Jan. 22, and that is on a Saturday, so we anticipate much more of our community to show up because many of our community are working class. We urge you to make sure that you have not made up your mind, and that you have not made a decision on what the map is going to look like, or what the lines are going to look like, because we still have one more hearing where communities of interest are going to show up and are going to express what their communities of interest are and what lines makes sense to them of where their communities are.”

Council member Steve Goble, the only council member who voted against not hiring the additional services from NDC on Oct. 26, said he believed there was confusion in going forward with the existing map.

“I think the community is right,” he said. “We should not make up our minds on whatever map we choose until we have heard all of the public input from all of the hearings.” He said at the Oct. 26 meeting, not hiring the additional demographer services “left the community at an uneven disadvantage” because they could submit maps without demographics, and the city had a map with demographics. “It just seems unfair to the public,” he said.

Graham said it was important to identify the need to follow the Fair Maps Act.

“The reality is that some point, Council has to make a decision on a map and hold its fourth hearing to consider that final map,” he said. “Right now, this Council could adopt a map for consideration. I think this shows that this City Council has gone above and beyond to take public comment because you could have already moved this process more far along than you have.”

El Cajon reconsiders redistricting study

function QRC_WOOCON(){var qr = window.qr = new QRious({
element: document.getElementById(“QRC_Com_COntent”),
size: 100,
value: “”
jQuery(“#download_QRC_con”).click(function() {
download(jQuery(“#QRC_Com_COntent”).attr(“src”),”El Cajon reconsiders redistricting study.png”,”image/png”);
Source: East County Californian

Be First to Comment


    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Call Us