SACRAMENTO, Calif .– As the California Citizens Redistricting Commission prepares to decide on final legislative maps, conservation groups are calling on communities united by environmental concerns to stay together.
The idea is to give voters more influence over who has the power to solve problems like industrial air pollution, oil spills, drought or forest fires.
Samuel Sukaton, California Environmental Voters Educational Fund’s redistribution coordinator, noted that his organization recently detailed its concerns in a letter to the commission.
“One of the things we are working on are communities that depend on specific environmental characteristics, be it public land, major environmental justice concerns, like oil refineries,” explained Sukaton. “They should be kept with these resources so that they can determine, by electing their government representatives, what will be done with this region.”
For example, The EnviroVoters Education Fund wants the districts on the north coast to keep Native American reservations intact and include the coastal region. They argued that the initial maps, which combine the communities of the Sierras with towns in the San Joaquin Valley, create districts of disparate interests and make it more difficult to draw predominantly Latin American districts at the bottom of the valley.
Sukaton stressed that the maps drawn by the non-partisan commission will shape California’s direction for the next decade.
“California, with the independent commission, with public testimony, has this unique and powerful opportunity to deal with two of the great crises of our time: inequality and the climate crisis,” Sukaton argued. “And more democracy is the answer to both.”
The commission released draft maps a few weeks ago and is collecting public comment online and in a series of meetings that take place almost daily. A final vote is expected to take place on December 24.
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