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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez sought the public's advice Wednesday to help him create a redistricting commission he wants to eliminate.

"I am eager to hear your voices," the Los Angeles Democrat said in convening the Capitol public hearing.

Six people testified during the 20-minute hearing on qualities they would like to see in members of the state's first independent commission to handle the once-a-decade task of redrawing political districts.

Under Proposition 11, passed by voters in November 2008, the 14-member commission is charged with determining legislative and Board of Equalization districts. The commission is not responsible for drawing congressional districts, although Proposition 20 on the Nov. 2 ballot would incorporate that into the panel's duties as well.

The irony of Wednesday's hearing was that Pérez has loaned $49,000 to Proposition 27, which aims to eliminate the redistricting commission and give the job of drawing political maps back to the Legislature.

Pending a final decision on the commission's fate, however, Pérez has a role to play in weeding out applicants from a pool of 60 finalists identified by a three-person panel of state auditors.

Pérez and each of the Legislature's three other leaders from both major parties can strike two Democrats, two Republicans and two independent or minor-party applicants from the pool by Nov. 15.

Afterward, the state auditor will select the first eight commissioners by random -- three Democrats, three Republicans and two from neither party. Those eight members will select six colleagues from the pool.

"We are holding this public meeting today to invite the public to present their views on what kind of commissioners they believe should serve in this vital role," Pérez said Wednesday.

Pérez said he will be looking for candidates who possess the qualities specified by Proposition 11 -- impartiality, analytical skills and appreciation for California's diversity.

"I will particularly be looking for potential commissioners who have demonstrated a commitment to the Voting Rights Act and to preserving communities of interest whenever possible," Pérez said.

The Voting Rights Act is a federal law written to protect ethnic minority rights in elections. Communities of interest are groups of people with similar interests within a given geographical area.

Wednesday's hearing was attended by representatives of Common Cause, the League of Women Voters of California, the Greenlining Institute, AARP, California Forward and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

Speakers applauded Pérez's desire to emphasize impartiality and diversity.


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