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Supervisors: Realign with western state districts

June 13, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors voted to seek a realignment of state legislative districts to the west instead of the north.

The decision comes at a time when the decennial process, which follows the census, is under way.

Supervisors' Chairman Tony Tirado voted to abstain from the otherwise unanimous vote because the motion was to merely seek an alignment to the "southwest."

"In my opinion we have to be more defined than that," Tirado said after the vote.

Tirado suggested the alignment of Assembly and Senate boundaries go north to include the city of Indio before shifting west.

Voting for the southwest alignment were supervisors Hank Kuiper, Wally Leimgruber, Joe Maruca and Gary Wyatt.

The issue was before the board on request of Maruca, who asked the board take at least a "nebulous" position on how it thinks the boundaries should be aligned even though the decision will be made by Assembly and Senate committees in Sacramento.

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The board discussed the various reasons for aligning to the north and west.

Tirado said the county has more in common to the north than the west. He said there are efforts under way to economically link the Imperial, Coachella and Mexicali valleys. In addition, he said the Imperial-based Imperial Irrigation District supplies electricity to the Coachella Valley.

Wyatt and Maruca argued the Coachella Valley is a direct competitor with the Imperial Valley and has gone so far as to hire a local public relations firm to make certain introductions between Coachella Valley officials and their counterparts in Mexicali.

Wyatt further argued a political alignment to the west and economic alignment to the north could actually benefit the Imperial Valley by having legislators from both areas seeking economic benefits for the Valley.

Maruca reminded everyone that high school sports teams in the Coachella Valley refused to come to the Imperial Valley and play local schools and that San Diego schools picked up the slack.

"They didn't have to do that, but they did," Maruca said, speaking of the San Diego schools.

The board's vote will result in a letter stating the board's desire to the Legislature.

In a related matter, the board will have three public hearings on redistricting. They are all set for 7 p.m. The first is Monday in Brawley in the City Council chambers, 225 A St.; the next is Tuesday in the supervisors chambers, 940 W. Main St., El Centro; and the last is June 20 in Calexico in its City Council chambers, 608 Heber Ave.

Maps showing four redistricting alternatives, developed by a board-appointed ad hoc committee, will be available for public viewing at public libraries Thursday.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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