Our Opinion: Equal representation

June 23, 2001

The county finds itself in the middle of the decennial process called redistricting.

What that means is that each county supervisor is elected from and represents a given area of the county, with each one of those areas having an equal amount of people residing in it or as nearly equal in population as humanly possible.

The reason for the equal number of residents boils down to our republican form of government; that is, we do not rule directly — we elect others to govern for us. Our form of government is also called representational because we elect others — Assembly members, senators, presidents, supervisors, Imperial Irrigation District board members and so forth — to do what they think is in our best interests.

To develop those new boundaries for supervisorial districts every 10 years, the U.S. Constitution requires an "actual enumeration" of the "whole number of persons in each state." To carry out that mandate, the federal government takes a census to determine the actual number, not an estimate.


The importance of redistricting is to ensure the principle of "one person, one vote" has significance in that each voter ballot carries the same weight in electing representatives as do votes of other voters in other areas voting for the same offices.

This particular redistricting is important because Hispanics will hold majorities in each supervisorial district, a situation that will allow the complexion of all elected boards and councils to change dramatically. However, election results do not depend on the number of eligible voters in a given area. Rather, those elected to office are the direct result of voter turnout. For those who want to see more Hispanics elected in Imperial County, this is a golden opportunity.

Unlike redistricting at the state and federal level that typically reflects the desires of incumbents to remain in office — with little regard for what's actually best for the people — supervisorial redistricting is expected to concentrate on numbers and not political parties.

To that end, the county Board of Supervisors created an ad hoc committee of senior county employees and community activists to develop new boundaries based on the 2000 census. Four alternatives have been released for consideration, and last week the county had a series of three public workshops to receive public input.

Unfortunately, as has been seen at past workshops staged for the public's benefit, the public's attendance is minimal at best.

Once the Board of Supervisors has formally selected a redistricting alternative, or one that has not yet been developed, community members interested in running for elected office will know in which district they reside, allowing them to decide in which political district or division they can seek election.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to formally adopt a redistricting plan before the end of July.

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