Redistricting for San Mateo Might Help Diversify Board
San Mateo County is assembling a committee to consider redrawing the lines of its five voting districts.
The decision is part of an agreement finalized February 20 to settle a discrimination lawsuit against the county.
The county was sued in 2011 on charges that its at-large voting system diluted the voting power of minorities. The settlement also requires the county to pay an estimated $650,000 in attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs' lawyers.
In November, voters chose to change San Mateo County from an at-large voting system to a system of voting by district for the Board of Supervisors .
Voting by district could lead to a more diverse board. For example, more candidates might enter the race because it’s more affordable to campaign for one district than to campaign for an entire county.
Supervisor Dave Pine says district elections don't guarantee diverse representation, however. “We need more voter registration within the minority community,” Pine said. “We also need more minority candidates to step up and run for office.”
25% of the county’s population is Asian and another 25% is Latino, but only one person of color has ever been elected to the Board.