Supervivors champion new district map ratification

Tulare County Board of Supervisors pleased with public outreach and input on selecting new district map

VISALIA – Despite some disagreement from redistricting committee members, and the threat of a law suit, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors ratified their new district maps.

In a press release from the board, chairwoman Amy Shuklian said she was proud of the way the community participated in the process. Overall, there were over 50 maps along with an extensive and highly inclusive public outreach process.

The Verduzco map was the basis from which the final map was drawn, but as Supervisor Dennis Townsend said, by the time the final map was approved, the board had tweaked it with community suggestions and ideas from other maps that didn’t make the cut.File image

“The process was fair, equitable, and organized, and we believe this led to the successful outcomes in redrawing the district lines in a way that accurately reflects our communities,” Shuklian said.

In the end the map was a form of Fresno City Council assistant Jose Verduzco’s map, which was originally a community submitted map analyzed and recommended by the citizen advisory commission on redistricting.

The board made their decision after public outreach, community engagement and 14 advisory commission meetings in which the county and advisory commission analyzed and considered 52 supervisorial district maps in just about six weeks after the delayed 2020 census data was released Sept. 29. The board will adopt the final ordinance at either the Dec. 7 or Dec. 14 meetings.

The Verduzco map was the basis on which the final map was drawn on, but as Supervisor Dennis Townsend said, by the time the final map was approved, the board had tweaked it with community suggestions and ideas from other maps that didn’t make the cut. The Board press release stated as much noticing that the Board modified Verduzco’s original map to place the mountain communities primarily into two districts (Districts 4 and 5), consolidate the core economic areas of the city of Visalia into a single district (District 3), and ensure three H-CVAP majorities districts above 55% to strengthen the electoral influence of the County’s majority Latino community.

“We’re putting names on them, but by the time we’re through with them, it’s just going to be a community input map,” Townsend said. “From everything we’ve received, we’re going to morph it into one.”

The final map creates three Hispanic-citizen voting age population (H-CVAP) districts—Larry Micari’s District 1 (57.4%), Pete Vander Poel’s District 2 (55.2%) and Eddie Valero’s District 4 (61.5%)—to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

Tulare is kept whole in District 2, as was a hot topic of conversation in the discussion by the Dolores Huerta Foundation. The Equity Coalition map, split the predominantly white, wealthier northeastern part of Tulare into District 3 with western Visalia and the poorer, more diverse southwestern Tulare was to remain in District 2, with its unincorporated neighbors Pixley, Tipton, Allensworth and Earlimart. The proposed split was to give voting power to the poorer, more rural communities to elect a candidate of choice, who have historically been outvoted by their wealthier counterparts in northeastern Tulare.

Attorney John Sarsfield, whose partner Melo previously threatened a lawsuit if the Equity Coalition map was not selected, said the board’s final selection is “good enough.”

“The standard for a lawsuit [with] what they’ve drawn, it barely passes, but it passes,” Sarsfield said. “We had hoped that the Equity [Coalition] map would be chosen, but the final version of what they came up with is acceptable.”

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