COLUMN: Gavilan College Trustee Area 7 deserves a fairer playing field

Gavilan College Trustee Irma Gonzalez writes that taking the census into account is a federal law that is all about doing things to maintain fairness in our democracy.

This column was written by Gavilan Joint Community College District Trustee Irma Gonzalez. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.


The Census 2020 showed that Gavilan’s current Trustee Area populations are not balanced, so the boundaries need to be adjusted. San Benito County has three elected Area Trustees, Area 5 made up of mainly downtown Hollister and surrounding area, Area 6 predominately Santa Clara County including areas of San Benito County, and Area 7 which is the rural area of our county that I represent.

According to demographer, Jeanne Gobalet “It’s not the total population share that matters most, but the people who are actually registered and voting.” She continued by saying “these numbers are rather low and especially in Trustee Area 7 which is at 37%” of the community voting age population (CVAP).

Plan 2 presented at our Jan. 19th meeting reduces the standard deviation to 5.3% and raises the CVAP to 41% in Area 7, with boundaries adjusted to keep Communities of Interest intact and to balance the Latinx population shares in Trustee Areas 5, 6, and 7. As Gobalet stated Plan 2 was drawn up “so as to make it more of a level playing field.” The California Fair Maps Act requires cities and counties to pay attention to the Communities of Interest and Gabalet added California Education code requires “that communities of interest probably should not be split between trustee areas.”

Trustee Jeanie Wallace (Area 5) said that any changes including Plan 2 would be illegal and a violation of the Voting Rights Act. Something that I disagreed with during our meeting because Plan 2 does not violate any law that I am aware of, plus I do not think the demographer hired would recommend it if illegal. Plan 2 keeps a community of interest almost intact and does not split the community of interest as much between trustee areas as it is now. I would like to move the boundary up northern to Buena Vista Road to keep the community of interest in one Trustee Area. Trustee Wallace further said, “I’m concerned that what’s being suggested looks the cracking that’s prohibited.” However, if you look at the current trustee area, it does resemble what she is stating. She went on to say “the ideal district was to have the communities of interest not split up” Yet the current map does just that: it splits up the community of interest between Trustee Area 6 (Santa Clara) and Trustee Area 7 (San Benito). Wallace went on to say “I’m not sure that it’s appropriate for us to be tampering with the maps.” It should be noted that redistricting and redrawing boundaries every 10 years using the current Census data is NOT tampering and is in FACT following the Voting Rights Act and our obligation to perform under the law. Trustee Rachel Perez (Area 6) added “We should just leave it alone.” Leaving it alone means ignoring the 2020 Census data, by the way.

I disagree with ignoring the 2020 Census data. Taking the census into account is a federal law that is all about doing things to maintain fairness in our democracy. The intention of the Census which is done every 10 years and therefore the most recent 2020 Census, which we should be looking at now and redistricting is to take into account the citizens of voting age population and adjust Trustee Areas to conform with the Voting Rights Act. Keeping the 2010 boundaries, which has been suggested, does a disservice to the community of interest area known as Villa Hermosa, which is one cohesive area that should not be split up between trustee areas as it is now in the original Plan 1 and Plan 2.

This community of interest shares nothing with Santa Clara County. This community of interest shares similar living standards, including similar income and educational levels social-economic status with San Benito County. Santa Clara County has higher wages and social-economic status including higher educational levels. The children who live in Villa Hermosa attend local schools and afterschool sports in San Benito County, not in Santa Clara County. They attend public schools in our county, not Santa Clara County. The homes are not worth millions of dollars as many homes in Santa Clara County are. There is no comparison between this community of interest and Santa Clara County.

Doing nothing as the other trustees want to do really does not address this community of interest that in essence discriminates.

Our next redistricting meeting is scheduled for February 2, followed by a public hearing on February 16th with final approval of maps on March 1, 2022. Please join us and learn about the college redistricting process and let us know your thoughts. If you live in the Villa Hermosa area, do you want to be represented by Santa Clara County instead of San Benito County?

To remain informed please follow me at:

For more information on the redistricting process and to view maps, visit here.

Demographers Presentations with Maps and Data:

January 5, 2022 Presentation  here.

January 19, 2022 Presentation here.


Irma Gonzalez

Your advocate for San Benito County representing Area 7 in the Gavilan Community College Board of Trustees.