Paul Wellman (file)
Thursday, July 5, 2018
County voters will soon find themselves confronting not one but two initiatives that will fight to combat gerrymandering in the drawing of new supervisorial boundary districts. First District Supervisor Das Williams scrambled to craft a last-minute alternative to compete with the measure drafted by the new organization Reason in Government (RIG), which quietly collected 16,000 signatures in recent months, bankrolled by North County economic interests typically aligned with the Republican Party and conservative interest groups. Williams’s measure will be backed and bankrolled by interests aligned with the Democratic Party.
The dueling proposals each purport to create a new, independent commission charged with redrawing the supervisorial district lines after the findings of the 2020 United States Census. The key difference between the two is the weight of party representation. Under the RIG plan, each party would have two representatives on a five-person commission; the fifth seat would be occupied by an independent voter. Under Williams’s plan, party representation on the commission would reflect party registration among the electorate. Right now, 42 percent of county voters are registered Democrats, 24 percent are registered Republicans, and 25 percent are independents or have declined to state party preference. Williams’s plan offers about half as much Republican representation as the RIG plan, two-thirds more Democratic, and about 100 percent more independent. As of deadline, county supervisors were expected to approve both measures, leaving it to voters to decide. Williams termed the RIG approach “a naked power grab” that would give disproportionate representation to the North County economic and political interests that bankrolled it.