For four years, I was proud to serve the people of San Luis Obispo as the representative of the 33rd Assembly District. Serving my constituents and working to address their concerns were foremost on my mind each day I was in office. That is the job of any elected official — to represent the interests of his or her constituents.
But this is not true for all elected officials, specifically when it comes to redistricting. Every 10 years, California draws new election maps that are supposed to be revised based on the changing demographics of our state. This is ostensibly done to ensure California’s citizens receive fair representation.
But the reality is starkly different. Self-interested incumbent politicians normally manipulate, or gerrymander, districts to guarantee their own re-election. We are left with districts that prevent fair races and with voters who can’t hold their politicians accountable.
The Nov. 2 election provides California’s voters an opportunity to remedy this situation. Proposition 20 will take the power of redistricting away from Sacramento politicians and task the voter-approved, independent Citizens Redistricting Commission with drawing congressional election districts.
Voting “yes” on Proposition 20 will bring a simple but important change to how California’s districts are drawn. By removing self-interested politicians from the redistricting process, we prevent them from manipulating districts for their own political gain. Without politically-drawn, safe election seats, voters will be able to hold their elected officials more accountable for their job performance and vote out those who don’t do their jobs.
If California does not approve Proposition 20, then leaders of both political parties will gather with their high-paid consultants behind closed doors and draw districts to ensure their friends in Congress are virtually guaranteed re-election. And it won’t matter if they have to divide cities and communities to come up with their safe districts (they have done this here before without thinking about how this might negatively impact voters by weakening their voices).
The current system lacks transparency and fairness and it does not allow voters to hold their politicians accountable. The politicians decide which voters they want to represent and which ones are more likely to re-elect them, instead of voters selecting their elected officials.
Through it all, some members of Congress have little incentive to address constituent needs because they know they will not face any serious election competition. We have arrived at a place where some members of Congress don’t feel that they are accountable to their voters. There is no other way of saying it — this just isn’t right.
I urge you to join the broad-based, bipartisan coalition of Proposition 20 supporters, including the California Chamber of Commerce, AARP, the National Federation of Independent Business/California, California Common Cause, California NAACP and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. We all believe it is time for California’s voters to be able to hold their politicians accountable and vote ineffective politicians out of office. Vote “yes” on Proposition 20 on Nov. 2!
Tom Bordonaro Jr. represented California’s 33rd Assembly District from 1994-1998. He now serves as San Luis Obispo County assessor.