Line-drawers look for opinions

A commission created by voters seeking more fairness in state and congressional elections is coming to San Luis Obispo next week to hear the public’s views about elections.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission will meet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Board of Supervisors chambers, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.

Under the Constitution, the state must redraw legislative districts every 10 years. The Legislature has been doing a poor job of it, voters decided.

Their votes in 2008 and 2010 created the 14-member commission to take the redistricting process out of the hands of legislators who, voters felt, have historically redrawn lines in a way that protects incumbents in both the Democratic and Republican parties.

The county’s two members of the House of Representatives are examples.

The 22nd District, now held by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, extends from the high desert in Mojave to Arroyo Grande at the edge of the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles away. Rep. Lois Capps’ 23rd District snakes up the Central Coast, touching on several counties. She is a Democrat from Santa Barbara.

Commissioners were chosen after a grueling process that began with 30,000 applicants and took months.

The commission as currently constituted is designed to represent geographic, demographic, ethnic, political and economic balance, among other criteria.

Soliciting public input has been a priority from the commission’s inception, and its members are moving around the state to gather information from voters in each region.

The commission will redraw district lines for the House of Representatives, the state Senate and Assembly and the state Board of Equalization.

“Public participation in drawing these districts is critical to ensuring that communities have the strongest voice possible to express their preferences,” according to a statement from the commission.

“When voters with similar interests are drawn into a district together, their voices multiply, giving them a greater opportunity to express their views, elect candidates of their choice and hold their leaders accountable,” the statement went on.

Commissioners want the public to talk about the community they live in, the kind of people who live in their community, important issues and community history.

The group’s first round of draft maps will be released in June. Final district maps must be approved by the commission by Aug. 15.

The commission is asking speakers to limit comments to three to five minutes.

More information is available at the commission’s website at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.