The Swarm

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February 2, 2011
Citizens panel will help guide Sacramento's redistricting

It's not as independent as the citizens committee that will draw California's new congressional and legislative districts this year.

But given the limited time and complicated politics, the citizens advisory panel that the Sacramento City Council agreed to form Tuesday night to help with the city's redistricting was probably the most that could have been expected.

The panel will include 13 members -- Mayor Kevin Johnson and the eight council members will each appoint one, then the council's personnel committee would nominate four at-large members to the full council. Anyone can apply, but several council members said they would be looking for particular expertise and suggested that representatives from good government groups such as the League of Women Voters and Common Cause would likely be picked.

The council would keep the final say over the new council districts, which would be used for the first time in 2012. Any resident or community group could still submit maps. The advisory committee will review and analyze submissions, identify key issues and recommend the maps it believes would be best for the city. Possibly, it could come up with one of its own, combining elements of others.

Council members supporting the panel said it would help the process, increase citizen involvement and just perhaps mean a fairer redistricting.

New council member Jay Schenirer argued that it will help rebuild public trust, which he said was essential to moving the city forward.

But new Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, the lone dissenter in the 8-1 vote Tuesday night, said she opposed the advisory panel because redistricting is the council's job and she wants direct input, unfiltered at all by another layer.

Her district, District 1, will have to be changed significantly, largely because uneven population growth has grown its population to nearly double the size of four other districts.

The council plans to formally create the advisory panel with a resolution next Tuesday.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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