California's new commission to redraw congressional and legislative districts began its work Tuesday - and its first job is to choose six more members.
The eight members drawn by lot from 36 finalists must choose six more members from the remaining 28 and also must bring more gender, ethnic and geographic balance to the commission's makeup.
Peter Yao, a Republican and former mayor of Claremont, was elected temporary chairman during the commission's first meeting in a high-rise office building five blocks from the Capitol, and Democrat Cynthia Dai of San Francisco was elected vice-chairman.
Tao and Dai are two of the initial panel's four Asian-American members, which is one imbalance the remaining choices must correct to meet the criteria of the 2008 ballot measure, Proposition 11, that created the commission.
One or two of the additional commissioners would have to be Latino. Arithmetically, the panel is short on white men and representatives from Southern California and large cities.
The additional members must be chosen by the end of the year, although they are expected to be named this week. Once the commission receives data from the 2010 census, it will draw 120 new legislative districts, four new Board of Equalization districts and, in accordance with Proposition 20, passed on Nov. 2, new districts for the state's congressional members. There are 53 of the latter now, but that number could rise, drop or remain the same, depending on nationwide census results.
The new districts, assuming they are not blocked by the courts, would take effect for the 2012 elections. Proponents of the commission, formally known as the Citizens Redistricting Commission, say it will end incumbent-friendly gerrymanders and bring more ideological balance to the Legislature and the congressional delegation, both of which are now dominated by conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats.