Following the release of preliminary 2020 U.S. Census statistics, the El Cajon City Council is hosting a series of redistricting hearings to ensure each district has roughly the same number of voting-aged residents.
Redistricting is the process of adjusting city council voting districts. The first hearing will be Sept. 8 at the Renette Recreation Center on S. Emerald at 6:30 p.m., followed by two additional hearings on Nov. 4, and Jan. 22, 2022.
City staff, and the redistricting consultant National Demographic Corporation, will provide an overview of the redistricting process, introduce mapping tools, and gather community input.
Assistant to the city manager David Richards said the first meeting is focused on the continuation of gathering feedback from residents about community interests that share characteristics other than race. Communities of interest are neighborhoods with similar economic or social interests.
“We are also going to talk about some new online mapping tools. The one available right now, Redistrict R, and we will also have paper maps. NCD, our consultant will provide information as well so people can choose to do some of this map making at home,” he said.
The city also posted a new online mapping tool to its website. Using population and demographic projections, the program allows users to draw district boundaries or maps and identify communities of interest. The program also provides population demographic estimates for each of the drawn districts.
By the final meeting, Richards said final maps will be submitted to the city council, who will then hold an open hearing for additional public comment.
“Then they will have the opportunity to discuss the maps and narrow it down. Ultimately, at the final meeting, the purpose is to take more input and select the final map,” he said.
Richards said public input is an extremely important component of redistricting given the fact that districts need to reflect the community and the community input.
“Some of the things the redistricting consultant will look at are that you want to keep redistricting districts intact, keep communities of interest together as much as possible, but you also do not want to create new districts that would disrupt election candidates where they are at,” said Richards. “Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that the districts are balanced. If there is a district that is out of balance significantly, the lines would have to be adjusted. If there is a population that “does not warrant moving the lines, City Council will have the option to keep the exact same districts that they have now.”
Richards said there are several redistricting principles that aim to preserve the continuity of a district, has influence as to how much a voting district might change, minimize voters shifted to different elections years, and to respect voter choices and continuity of office.
Translated information including presentations, tutorials, and flyers can be found on the City’s website. Materials are available in Spanish, Arabic, and Somali. Residents may request an interpreter for the hearing by email at email@example.com.