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Redistribution will help determine how California is dealing with climate crisis

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In summary

Redrawing California’s political lines will help determine whether we are fighting or falling back in the face of the climate crisis.

By Mary Creasman, Special at CalMatters

Mary Creasman is CEO of California Environmental Voters and the California Environmental Voters Education Fund.

Next month’s decisions will shape California’s future for the next decade. Our state is undergoing a process to redraw the lines of our Congressional, Senate and Assembly districts. This work is done by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

Since June, the commission has been holding hearings and collecting comments from the public. By the end of the year, they must finalize the maps and determine how the communities are grouped; it will shape how Californians are represented in government for the next decade.

Unfortunately, the commission’s draft maps so far can only be called a “burning mess” to borrow from their own comments on their work in San Diego. It appears that in the commission’s rush to complete the map projects, substantial parts of the state have been bypassed.

In northern California, the historic lands of the Karuk tribes have been divided between districts, against the recommendations of tribal leaders and community organizations. In Southern California, the towns of the San Gabriel Valley are divided into two House districts, ignoring calls from the Asian Pacific Islander community to unite this area. The three districts of Sierra Nevada plunge into the central valley, without considering the contribution of local residents.

In San Diego and Orange counties, two sets of communities – the coastal communities from San Clemente to Solana Beach and the inner city of Fallbrook – were brought together. This flies in the face of the contribution of almost everyone involved, including San Diego County resident and Commissioner Patricia Sinay. There is still time to fix it, but the committee must act quickly.

There is too much at stake to not help matters. After all, the redistribution will help determine whether we are fighting or falling back on the climate crisis. Scientists have told us time and time again that we only have until 2030 to prevent the most severe impacts of the climate crisis. Since the realignment process is only done every 10 years, whoever is elected to represent these new districts will determine our reaction until the 2030 deadline.

Sadly, Californians are not well represented in the fight against the climate crisis. In recent years, most of the bills aimed at tackling climate change have died in the state legislature, and that’s because corporate interests come first in Sacramento. Seventy percent of the legislature accepts campaign contributions directly from oil companies or oil industry political action committees.

There is a disconnect between what is happening in Sacramento and the priorities of Californians. Polls show Californians want their leaders to prioritize tackling the climate crisis. The redistribution is an opportunity for Californians to make their voices heard and to remind our leaders of this priority.

Since 2010, the California Environmental Voters Education Fund has partnered with community organizations across the state to encourage participation in the redistribution process. Time and time again we hear that Californians want environmental impacts and concerns factored into the way the commission organizes districts.

If California does not have ridings that group communities together based on common concerns, priorities and climate impacts, then those neighborhoods will not have elected representation responding to them.

It is not about who wins or loses elections. It’s about drawing district boundaries that reflect the unique needs, struggles and values ​​of each California community to ensure that their representation reflects them as well. And the climate crisis and aggravating threats like environmental racism will impact the lives of Californians more than any other problem over the next decade.

In other states, district boundaries are drawn by the legislature. This process favors any party in power. We are fortunate to have a non-partisan process that gives all of us the opportunity to have our voices heard, but the commission needs to deliver improved maps that truly reflect the contributions and priorities of the community.

I urge all Californians to join our efforts. Help us ensure that we come out of the redistribution process ready to tackle the climate crisis.

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Mary Creasman also wrote on give california a rating on its climate action, how we get real change after the elections and clean transport requires new leadership member of the Assembly’s Transport Committee.