Kern County Supervisors consider various options for county redistricting

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Several options to redraw districts in Kern County were discussed and criticized Tuesday afternoon at the Board of Supervisors meeting. On the table are four maps — two of the hypothetical maps add a third Latino-majority district.  Another map leaves districts as they are.

One map presented by the Equitable Maps Coalition, a group organized by the Dolores Huerta Foundation, also includes a third Latino-majority district.

The support was divided, some claiming district lines aren’t broken, therefore there’s no need to redraw them. Others claimed making this a race issue will only further divide the community.

“The main issue is racially polarized voting,” District 5 Supervisor Leticia Perez said.  “What the evidence showed, not to be crude, is that Latinos will vote for a white electorate,” Perez said. “The opposite, which is white people, Caucasians voting for Latinos does not happen.”

It’s Deja Vu for residents that recall a 2016 lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund claiming old district boundaries drawn in 2011.  The claim was that it deprived Latino residents of their voting rights by diluting their populations throughout multiple districts.

“Being aware of additional ways to make the map even more equitable presented itself in the last few weeks,” Lori Pesante with the Dolores Huerta Foundation said.  

A federal judge ruled two years later, that two predominantly Latino districts needed to be created. But still, a Latino candidate was not elected. District 4 Supervisor David Couch remains on the board in one of those districts.

“It was a very, very cool example of how this process should work,” Pesante said. “You take high-quality data and local knowledge and combine the two to come up with a really good map.”

District 1 Supervisor Phillip Peters opposed the idea of having one supervisor for both Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and Edwards Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner heavily advocated for Draft Plan A, which would not make too many changes to the current map.

Every 10 years, following the census, local and state officials update political boundaries in a process known as redistricting. The process could change representatives for certain neighborhoods, but not the borders of cities and counties.

There was some confusion about whether Tehachapi would be pushed out of Kern County and into LA County, but it won’t be happening in this redraw.

The Board of Supervisors ended the meeting by voting to provide direction as far as changes they want to see in the proposed maps before meeting once again on Nov. 8 at 6 p.m.

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