Is Marin County a suburban community whose residents work and play in San Francisco? Or is it a rural county more tied by agriculture and tourism to Sonoma County? Members of Marin’s Board of Supervisors are wrestling over the county’s identity as they watch California’s Citizen Redistricting Commission redraw the political map. The supervisors are set to meet Tuesday, May 10 to discuss how (and how much) they want to get involved in the process of "drawing the lines."
But why does it matter anyway? Well, the outcome of redistricting will dramatically affect how the Bay Area is represented in state and federal politics. Supervisor Steve Kinsey did not shy away from that reality when I spoke with him Monday. He firmly stated that he believes Marin County should be part of a district with Sonoma County to better advocate for shared agriculture, water and political needs. In his view, San Francisco has a host of urban problems that need legitimate attention, but draw emphasis away from the core concerns of Marin County.
The rest of the supervisors are split on the issue. Granted, there are only three board members at the moment since Supervisor Charles McGlashan passed away suddenly at the end of March and Harold Brown Jr. has been struggling with health issues. Of the two other active members, Judy Arnold sides with Supervisor Kinsey, and board president Susan Adams sees some strong ties to San Francisco.
Adams, however, also expressed concerns about sending any statement at all to the commission for fear of marking the process with a dirty political fingerprint. But, the commission says it welcomes input from the public to help determine “communities of interest.” In a written statement to me Commissioner Cynthia Dai of San Francisco wrote, "The commission very much wants to hear from communities of interest including cities and counties. That is one of the reasons this Commission is holding over 30 hearings around the state to gather public input. Hearing from locally elected officials is certainly beneficial to the Commission's work in drawing the lines. We have received such input from dozens of elected officials at hearings in addition to official resolutions passed by counties and cities.”
Be that as it may, redrawing district lines is certainly political and potentially has wide-reaching impacts -- with or without recommendations from other citizens.
Update 2:42pm: I just got a call back from a staff person in the Marin County Supervisors office. She said that after discussion this morning the Supervisors basically decided to do nothing. Supervisor Kinsey made a motion to pass one of the options the staff presented that would recommend to the redistricting commission that Marin go with Sonoma county, but that motion did not pass. Instead, as a body the supervisors decided to do nothing, but individual supervisors can still send letters to the redistricting commission if they want.
Also: Listen to a March, 2011 episode of Forum with members of the Citizens Redistricting Commission.