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Proposed Assembly bill aims to make redistricting process independent in Fresno County

Fresno County

Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula has introduced a new bill to create an independent redistricting commission for Fresno County’s supervisor districts. Assembly Bill 2030, named after the year of the next census, would establish a County of Fresno Citizens Redistricting Commission. The bill aims to take the process out of the hands of supervisors who are able to choose members of their own redistricting commission.

“District lines that the Fresno County board of Supervisors have adopted since the 90’s have been very similar. Voters in Fresno County have done their part by participating in public meetings, offering solutions to the drawings of the supervisorial district maps, and still they felt like their voices were not heard,” Arambula said.

The independent redistricting commission would follow similar processes that have been established in other counties where independent redistricting commissions are in place, like San Diego and Los Angeles. One option includes appointing a 14-member commission.

Last year, the supervisors were criticized for keeping district lines largely unchanged, despite an increase in Fresno County’s Latino population. But a statement from Fresno County called the 2021 redistricting process a “collaborative success” that complies with the Federal Voting Rights Act. The statement addresses the proposed legislation, saying in part:

“Unfortunately, the sponsors of this legislation fail to recognize that the process must consider all communities of interest and constituents. For example, the sponsor of this legislation promoted a map that, if adopted, would have had a substantial urban influence, potentially minimizing the voice of small rural communities. An Independent Redistricting Commission with no accountability to the voters would take this important process out of the hands of the people.”

Arambula said the Senate could have the bill by June and, if passed, be ready for the governor to sign before October.

Soreath Hok is a multimedia journalist with experience in radio, television and digital production. She is a 2022 National Edward R. Murrow Award winner. At KVPR she covers local government, politics and other local news.