We soon have the opportunity to increase community voice in Oakland, Sacramento and D.C. – but, if we let the chance pass us by, we could see a loss of representation for those most marginalized. Every 10 years California redraws the district lines for all its legislative and congressional seats. We have just one shot each decade to shape who represents us in Congress and the legislature, and to ensure that there is fair consideration of policy that matters to us. This is our chance to have a real impact for our families, neighborhoods, city, county, and state.
The state redistricting process is led by the Citizens Redistricting Commission (CRC), an independent group of 14 Californian voters who are not elected or public officials. Redistricting commissions provide an important opening to bring about fair representation so that we may see the day when:
• public policies are responsive to the needs of low-income people of color and designed to create collective success;
• elected officials both represent and are responsive to their residents, especially those in the highest need; and
• district lines are determined by residents to enhance power at the local level and lift the voice of their communities.
Unfortunately, lack of diversity in the CRC’s applicant pool remains a problem. So far, two-thirds of the applicants are white and 3 out of every 5 applicants are male. We are working with our allies at California Calls, the Black Census & Redistricting Hub, and the Redistricting CA Collaborative to make sure California’s diversity and our communities are represented in the process. We cannot allow for politically-motivated manipulation of district lines to weaken the voice of those who have been historically and intentionally left out of the political process. By ensuring community input that reflects California’s diversity, we increase the ability of our communities to have a chance of electing representatives who share a commitment to racial and economic policies that help to change the material conditions for our folks.
The way district lines are drawn affects how politicians represent constituents’ interests. When communities are held together, we have a greater ability to hold politicians accountable. With an independent commission drawing the lines, we increase the likelihood that neighborhoods will be kept intact and reduce the drawing of lines based on the political interest of elected officials.
Redistricting is not new to us. In 2014, Oakland Rising worked with the League of Women Voters to pass Oakland’s Measure DD to create a redistricting commission to draw new district lines for Oakland City Council and School Board seats. For the first time in 2021, a new 13-person independent commission will draw the district maps for these Oakland seats. Prior to the passage of DD, elected officials drew their own districts behind closed doors. Redistricting commissions ensure districts are drawn to serve the interests of voters, rather than current office holders seeking reelection. They also ideally respect neighborhoods and natural geographic boundaries, ensuring communities with shared interests are kept together.
Oakland Rising is committed to ensuring that our working-class, immigrant, and communities of color are fairly represented in the redrawing of districts. If not, gerrymandering and political manipulation of new district lines to protect or change political power could splinter our voices and weaken our political power.
TAKE ACTION: We are looking for potential candidates who represent the Oakland that fights for racial, economic and environmental justice to apply for seats on the Oakland Redistricting Commission. If that is you, contact Strategic Partnerships Director Beth Gunston at (510) 261-2600.
Oakland, CA 94612
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