Kern supervisors vote to keep redistricting maps the same despite talk of racial inequality

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – The process to redraw Kern County districts came down to two options: one designed to create better representation for currently underrepresented communities and a second that left things nearly as is.

Wednesday, Kern County supervisors chose the latter option with a 4-1 vote, leaving many concerned for the next decade.

Lori Pesante, a member of the Equitable Maps Coalition for the Dolores Huerta Foundations, called Tuesday’s decision “disheartening.”

“If we want Kern County to thrive, if we want Kern County to not be at the bottom of the list of good things and to be at the top of all bad things then we need new voices,” Pesante said.

In the map approved Tuesday, Districts 1 and 2, will continue to cover Eastern Kern County.

MAP A3 – The Kern County Board of Supervisors adopted the map known as ‘A3’, this proposal leaves most districts slightly the same.

In the alternative Map not adopted known as ‘Draft D’, Districts 1 and 2 would be combined to make one district.

“Can you imagine putting that much square footage and putting one supervisor to manage all that?” said Lydia Cheney, chair of the Greater Tehachapi Economic Development Council. “No one will get attention.”

Race played a key role in the redistricting conversation.

“The ones who voted for this map, they apparently believe that the map that was created by communities of color, empowering underserved communities is not the right map,” Pesante said.

During public comment, residents shared concerns about diversity and the need to have non-white male representatives sitting on the board.

“We think race is something we should be talking about,” Pesante said. “It is as plain as the supervisor sitting on the dais.”

Is there a race issue in Kern County? Both sides of the coin agree there is.

“There is a race issue,” Cheney said.  “It is being caused by racists to be quite honest with you when you have the girl up there yesterday saying everyone but Leticia Perez, you white men sitting up there, that’s as bad as what she is feeling the people are saying against her.”

EQUITY MAP – A map proposed by the Equitable Maps Coalition with the Dolores Huerta Foundation, this proposed map would add a third, largely Latino district.

On the other side, this presents an opportunity to understand why the Equity Map was designed.

“A person of race privilege, class privilege, able-bodied privilege,” Pesante said. “I invite you to think about what those privileges mean and how it is unequal in our society and what can we do for people who don’t benefit from those privileges, it goes beyond race but it absolutely is about race.”

Pesante said that the adopted map will be analyzed to prove how effective it really is for the next 10 years but no word if legal action will be taken.

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