Sandoval pushes for more community input, transparency; he and Barrett ask for more maps; Walters asks for informal, round table meeting; one new proposed map similar to Board of Supervisors’ new map; Community Roundtable on Ward Redistricting during special Zoom meeting Jan. 6 for community input; second public hearing on redistricting during regular board meeting Jan 12.
By Allen Payton
In response to public pressure, the Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) Governing Board is seeking additional community input to adjust trustee ward boundaries and ensure population balance based on county demographic changes identified in the 2020 Census. During the Dec. 8 board meeting, (see 36-minute mark) Ward 5 Trustee Fernando Sandoval and Ward 2 Trustee Rebecca Barrett pressed for more public input, and wanted to review more than just the one map provided by the district’s staff and attorney David Saldani. They only provided slight changes to the current, gerrymandered map. (See related article)
Board Calls for More Public Input
At their December 8, 2021, meeting, (see item 10.A.) the Board reviewed only one staff-recommended map that highlighted how trustee area boundaries could change and received community input on the proposed map before determining the need for additional community input. In 2010, both the college board and the Contra Costa County Board of Education adopted the same exact maps, according to Saldani. The 4CD staff is expected to collaborate with the board of education, again, this year.
Only two members of the public offered comments during the hearing, including former college board trustee Greg Enholm who said “I hope the trustees agree that voters should choose their representatives not the reverse. He also said he agreed with this reporter “regarding his concerns about the proposed ward map,” referring to the current map being drawn based on political considerations to protect incumbents at the time it was adopted.
“I also hope that Board Vice President Walters and Board Secretary Sandoval will explain why they are not advocating for an independent redistricting body to redraw the wards as they pledged to do,” Enholm stated.
“The map must be the best one possible meeting all requirements,” he concluded and said he provided to the trustees a copy of the 1990 ward map.
“We support a good governance model which includes community meetings. We are a little surprised that…the college district did not engage in a community participation process,” said Maria Alegria, representing Latinx for Inclusion. “It looks like you’ve done this in-house for the past three decades.”
Barrett had questions about the process, including the FAIR Maps Act.
“Certainly, this year, more than ever, the politics surrounding redistricting is greater,” said Executive Vice Chancellor, Education and Technology Mojdeh Mehdizadeh. “This is the first year that the Census data was released six months later than usual.”
“Can you explain the California FAIR Maps Act of 2017 and how it impacts the way cities and counties conduct their post-Census redistricting?” Barrett asked.
“We don’t have to comply with the provisions. It gives more direction with the criteria,” Saldani responded. “The FAIR Maps Act requires cities and counties have…two pre-map hearings then two post-map hearings. It doesn’t apply to the college district.”
“We used traditional redistricting criteria,” he added.
Sandoval said “you spoke about population balance. You guys really didn’t talk about communities of interest. What Mr. Enholm stated…there was some work that was done for political boundary changes in the past and I’m concerned those still haven’t been addressed.”
“It’s not just population balance, it’s communities,” Sandoval continued. “We’re here to make sure the maps represent the communities of interest as they go forward.”
“The other thing I’m concerned about is, the map itself that we have in there, is not an interactive map. You should be able to show that,” he stated. “The fact that we only have one map says that we only have one option. I’m all about transparency. When I talked about the independent commission it’s really about transparency and making sure that the public has an opportunity to weigh in and put a comment…so the board can go ahead and try to understand what the concerns of the community are. We don’t know what they are, right now. I think we need to do more.”
“From my perspective there’s not have enough transparency and we need to ensure we go ahead and take care of the public interest,” he concluded.
“In fact, we heard public feedback, tonight,” said Saldani.
“I think we haven’t done enough,” Sandoval responded. “Give them more of an opportunity. Publicizing it and just having it on our website is not enough. We should have more than one map.”
Barrett then said, “I do have some concerns. I would like to have a more detailed map. Are the politicians giving feedback? Because it’s self-serving. The staff and demographer have worked to keep this away from board input. In some respects, I would hope the board and public could get a more detailed map with geographic markers…things to help identify. I would appreciate a little more detail and understanding. I think the board could give you more input that communities of interest don’t fit nicely…in your statistical analysis. I do think multiple maps would have been helpful. It would give the public a sense that there are choices.”
“I think most of us won’t be here, in 10 years on this board,” she continued. “So, one of the things we can do as a board is to codify our expectations around the redistricting process. Do we want to look at an independent redistricting commission or some kind of hybrid? But that’s a more long-term project.”
“Your free of the accusation that you’re trying to benefit yourself,” Barrett added.
“Would it be possible to have, I’ll use the word workshop, or gathering?” asked Board Vice President Judy Walters.
“Certainly. I thought that’s what we were doing, here, tonight,” responded Mehdizadeh.
Walters suggested a meeting that is “less formal…more of a roundtable kind of thing.”
“On a personal level, I’m happy with the work done, tonight,” she said. “I’m concerned that we have to meet our deadline and we don’t spend a jillion dollars doing stuff.”
“We’re happy to answer any additional questions and do a deeper dive from an interactive perspective,” Mehdizadeh responded. “While we would love to do that, we’re not resourced to do that.”
“We tried to keep it in-house. Let them do their independent work,” Board President Andy Li said. “I’m supportive of some open, community input.”
“The document…that’s…showing racial demographics is wonderful,” Walters added. But she didn’t call for an independent citizen redistricting commission as she committed to do during her campaign, last year.
“I heard some requests to follow the county in drawing our districts,” Li said. “But I found that there are three trustees in the same ward.”
However, where incumbents live is not a requirement that must be considered when redrawing ward boundaries.
“I appreciate the work done by the county. But they have different communities of interest than we do,” Barrett said. “We could be drawing our maps off of the school district boundaries.”
“We tried to keep as many as communities together as possible,” Mehdizadeh said.
Staff agreed to consider offering more public meetings and has since offered two more maps and post all three on the district’s website.
January 6 Community Roundtable on Ward Redistricting
The public can review three mapping options of how trustee boundaries could be balanced on the 4CD website located at www.4cd.edu/gb/redistricting. Community members can use a new interactive mapping feature that will help identify how each mapping option could change your trustee representation. The website also gives the public the opportunity to provide online comments and feedback that will be considered by the Board. In addition, 4CD will conduct a Community Roundtable on Ward Redistricting during a special Governing Board meeting via Zoom on Thursday, January 6, 2022, beginning at 5:00 p.m. to conduct a community roundtable to review the different mapping options and receive additional community input. Zoom details can be found in the official Governing Board meeting agenda for this community roundtable.
January 12 Second Redistricting Public Hearing
The Board will review the additional community input and hold a second redistricting public hearing at their regularly scheduled public meeting on January 12, 2022, beginning at 6:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend this meeting in-person at 500 Court Street, 2nd Floor Board Room, in Martinez or via Zoom. Zoom details for this meeting are contained in the official Board meeting agenda located on the 4CD website.
“Based on the community input we received so far, the Board decided it was prudent to expand the redistricting choices available and provide more opportunity for the public to weigh in on this important decision,” said Walters. “The additional steps we are taking, which are beyond what is legally required, are appropriate and convey to our community we are rebalancing our trustee wards in a transparent way, and is being completed in a fair, objective, and non-partisan manner.”
Special districts like 4CD are legally obligated to follow Education Code Section 5019.5, which highlights the process to follow, ensuring the population of trustee wards is balanced based on the changing demographics of the community. Legally, the population can be as great as 10% between districts. Despite receiving the 2020 Census data six months late, 4CD is still required to complete this process by February 28, 2022.
After receiving the 2020 Census data in September 2021, staff began working with legal counsel to analyze and prepare its ward redistricting recommendation. The Board received a report outlining the plan to rebalance the ward boundaries at their November 10, 2021, meeting, including a review of the population changes throughout Contra Costa County.
Should you wish to make public comment in person, please fill out the yellow public comment card (sample attached) that will be available at the meeting and give it to the Executive Coordinator. For those attending remotely, the Governing Board President will ask for general comments or those specific to a certain agenda item.
- Please note that submissions of public comments will be considered a public record under the Public Records Act and are therefore subject to public disclosure; submissions must either address an item on the agenda or be within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Governing Board.
- If a translator for the speaker is needed, please contact the Executive Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 925.229.6821, the Friday prior to the meeting so appropriate accommodations may be made.
According to Government Code Section 54954.2(a), when responding to public comment, Governing Board members and staff may respond as summarized below.
- Briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by persons making public comment;
- ask questions for clarification or make a brief announcement;
- provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information;
- request staff to report back to the body at a later meeting; or
- direct staff to place the matter on a future agenda.
Timothy Leong, 4CD Public Information Officer, contributed to this report.