Marin IJ article by: Richard Halstead
A revised map of Marin County’s five supervisorial districts will concentrate more of the county’s Latino population in a single district, possibly giving the community more political clout.
The supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the new map pending a few minor alterations necessitated by changes in census blocks. A vote to approve the final version of the map with the adjustments is scheduled for Dec. 14. The supervisors are legally required to adopt the new redistricting plan by Dec. 15.
The new map incorporates some of the changes requested by Canal Alliance, the nonprofit that serves San Rafael’s predominantly Latino Canal neighborhood, but not all of them.
Canal Alliance had requested that neighborhoods in District 1 and District 2 be moved into District 4, which includes the Canal neighborhood. Rodoni represents District 4, which also includes most of West Marin.
The map approved by supervisors Tuesday complied 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. The map also complied with the nonprofit’s call for portions of the Bret Harte and California Park neighborhoods, which are in District 2, represented by Supervisor Katie Rice, to be relocated into District 4.
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.
Omar Carrera, chief executive of Canal Alliance, said, “One of the principles you set out when you started this process is a focus on equity. We appreciate the steps in that direction you and your staff have taken so far and urge you to take one more step in this direction.”
However, Assistant County Administrator Dan Eilerman, who spearheaded the redistricting effort for the county, said there are some key demographic differences between the residents of Montecito/Happy Valley and the Canal area.
For example, Eilerman said that while Latino residents comprise 76% of the Canal area, they are just 28% of the Montecito/Happy Valley area’s population is Latino. Eilerman said 57% of Canal residents speak Spanish when at home, while just 21% of the residents of Montecito/Happy Valley do. And while 46% of Canal residents are immigrants, only 18% of Montecito/Happy Valley residents are.
Paul Cohen, a political consultant representing Canal Alliance, responded, “With respect, it’s the wrong comparison.”
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