Anyone can become a demographer and submit the next election plan for the city of Fresno. As an exercise on democracy, GV Wire presented one. It’s Public 109 on your scoresheet.
The city council will discuss the next round of citizen cards on Thursday at 6 p.m. (council chamber or online). The Council is expected to have a final vote on Thursday 9 December with an absolute deadline of 15 December.
The rows are changed every 10 years based on US census data. The pandemic has delayed the release of the 2020 numbers, so the maps will be drawn later than usual.
The city council will be reviewing 14 cards Thursday – 11 submitted by the public, including GV Wire, and three more submitted by the city’s advisor, National Demographics Corporation. Of the published maps, four are listed as non-compliant because they are not contiguous.
The GV Wire Map
GV Wire created a map using District R’s map drawing website that deviated slightly from the current city lines.
Drawing the map was easy. District R is a paint-by-number system. However, getting it compliant is a challenge.
The first step is to evenly distribute the population – about 77,000 in each of the seven wards (there is a 10% margin).
Next, the maps are drawn in such a way that they are compact and cohesive, hold interest groups together and protect “minority majority” districts.
Interest groups is not a clear term, but generally means that communities that have something in common (location, economy, racial composition) are held together.
Instead of listening to a neighborhood or moving to it, the GV Wire card is making some radical changes. For example, District 1 will now be west of Highway 99, the area some refer to as “Forgotten Fresno.”
The key figure for determining the protection of minority groups is the population in the voting age of the citizens. It is the percentage of legal residents over the age of 18 in the district.
The GV Wire card includes the three Hispanic majority districts – Districts 3, 5, 7 – with District 1 being 48%. (See table at the end of the story.)
The map also has that each of the seven boroughs borders an edge of the city, allowing for a direction for expansion. It has been in central Fresno since District 7 was established in 1996 (and effective next year). Now it’s touching the edge.
Our plan also merges previously divided districts into a single district. The Tower District, which is divided in a north-south direction on Olive Avenue between two boroughs, will now be reunited. The same applies to the Riverpark area in north Fresno.
The GV wiremap lines are also simply drawn. We have reduced “jagged edges” to a minimum by having more straight lines along the main thoroughfares. Any deviations serve to keep the populations relatively even.
Would council members protect themselves?
According to federal and state law, when drawing a map, the council cannot take into account where an incumbent member lives.
GV Wire’s map would make some changes. Nelson Esparza (District 7), Luis Chavez (District 5) and Tyler Maxwell (District 4) would all be drawn in the same District (7). Both Esparza and Chavez are standing for re-election next year.
This means that some council members will either move or have to forego re-election if such a scenario occurs.
Maxwell and Esmeralda Soria (District 1) – who are eliminated in 2022 – would also be drawn under this card. But they were allowed to end their terms.
Would council members choose a card that would make them stand out?
“The most important thing is that we ensure that the integrity of these neighborhoods and interest groups is protected. So hypothetically yes, ”said President-in-Office of the Council Luis Chavez.
Follow the law
Northwest Fresno City Councilor Mike Karbassi says he will abide by the law.
“We shouldn’t be considering our residence up to a point, even though it’s in the Charter, it can’t be the main consideration. It would be pretty difficult where I live, ”Karbassi said on a recent episode of GV Wire Unfiltered.
“Personally, I had no consideration of incumbents or people running for future council races when I was drawing the line.” – Tyler Maxwell, Fresno councilor
“To be completely fair, I (should) just move. I mean, it would be kind of weird to represent a district that I don’t live in. But sometimes you have to make sacrifices to serve, and that could be one of them, ”Karbassi said.
Northeast Fresno representative Garry Bredefeld (District 6) said he would not support a card that challenges him.
Maxwell serves on the Reallocation Committee with Esparza and Miguel Arias. He said he would follow state and federal guidelines.
“Personally, I didn’t think of incumbents or people running for future council races when I was drawing the line,” Maxwell said.
The city’s charter has been interpreted to mean that incumbents can be protected. Redistributing analysts Politics 101 spoke to, if any, assuming office is the lowest consideration.
“We should definitely consider the charter and a provision in that charter because we should retain as much as possible the incumbents and the districts for which they were elected,” said Maxwell.
He indicated that his committee endorses a map made by the city’s employed advisor that is lawful and keeps incumbents in place.
A change of party?
The Fresno City Council elections are theoretically impartial. But whether a candidate is a Republican or a Democrat always seems to matter to the voters.
GV Wire’s map brings a partisan change in meaning to two boroughs – District 4, which encompasses central east Fresno, and District 2, which is northwest Fresno.
With the caveat that the GV Wire card numbers are a rough estimate – there would be fewer Democrats and more Republicans in District 4, but even more Democrats. The GOP representation would increase from 26% to 33%, while the Democrats would decrease from 43% to 39%.
In District 2, the Democrats would rise from + 3% to + 10%.
On both the current map and the GV Wire map, only District 6 (northeast Fresno) would have more Republicans than Democrats.