December 19, 2021
Marin IJ article by: Adrian Rodriguez
Marin supervisors have unanimously approved a new elections map that concentrates more Latino residents into a single district, a move advocates say will bolster their political influence.
The new map, called the Final NDC Canal Map, incorporates some of the changes requested by Canal Alliance, the nonprofit that serves San Rafael’s predominantly Latino Canal neighborhood.
The Board of Supervisors originally endorsed the map at its meeting on Dec. 7, pending technical revisions. They approved the final map on Tuesday.
When drawing district boundaries, supervisors are required by law to seek to unite “communities of interest.” They are prohibited from diluting the voting power of minority groups.
The new map complies with Canal Alliance’s request to move an area along Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael from District 1, which is represented by Supervisor Damon Connolly, into District 4, represented by Supervisor Dennis Rodoni.
However, the new map does not move the Montecito/Happy Valley area adjacent to San Rafael High School from District 1 to District 4, as Canal Alliance had sought.
Eilerman said that while Latino residents comprise 76% of the Canal area, they are just 28% of the Montecito/Happy Valley area. Eilerman said 57% of Canal residents speak Spanish when at home, while just 21% of the residents of Montecito/Happy Valley do. While 46% of Canal residents are immigrants, only 18% of Montecito/Happy Valley residents are.
“We’re most proud of being able to acknowledge the Canal community as a clear community of interest here,” Eilerman said after the approval.
An alternative map that would have included all the changes requested by Canal Alliance would have resulted in a deviation of 8.97%.
“It’s pretty significant to be able to bring that down to under 3% without a whole lot of changes that would otherwise confuse residents,” he said.
Omar Carrera, chief executive of Canal Alliance, said it is grateful that the county staff recognized the community’s requests.
“It’s historically been very hard to organize the community and to be represented at the county level on issues of housing, transportation, etc., having to work with three different supervisors,” Carrera said. “It was complicated.”
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