On Nov. 9, 2021 The San Benito County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to send a letter to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to oppose the placement of San Benito County into the “Cupertino Draft Map” congressional district on their latest draft of the redistricting process.
Monterey County and San Benito County collaborate on regional issues of equity, like transportation, housing, water, broadband and of course, agriculture. We are home to thousands of farmworkers that work in the fields of the Salinas Valley, San Juan Valley and Hollister.
This move would remove San Benito County from the congressional district connection to the Central Coast area, of which the County has had a long history of collaboration with our coastal partners. This seat, now occupied by the Honorable Congressman Jimmy Panetta, has historically represented our local needs and interests well and is currently working on trying to come up with solutions to fix our own San Justo Reservoir.
This new reassignment would put San Benito County with south Santa Clara County and south San Jose. This area is densely populated and urban. Both San Benito County and Monterey County are rural in nature and character. The San Benito County Board of Supervisors feels this reassignment would not be a good fit and feel our County’s needs and concerns would be drowned out by densely populated and urban communities’ needs first.
Yesterday, elected representatives from San Benito County, including Supervisor Hernandez, Supervisor Tiffany , Cesar Flores, Vice Mayor of San Juan Bautista, and John Freeman, San Juan Bautista Council Member joined with Monterey County elected officials in a press conference in the City of Gonzalez, California. The purpose of the press conference was to encourage the public to contact the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to voice their concerns and oppose the latest redistricting placements by the commission.
The San Benito County Board of Supervisors encourages residents to immediately send comments to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, voicing their concern and urging them to place us back into the “Midcoast Draft Map”/Central Coast area.
Link to the Redistricting Commission’s Community Input Form
The following is a copy of the letter sent to the California Citizens Redistricting Commission:
Dear 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission,
On behalf of the San Benito County Board of Supervisors, we thank you for your hard work in re‐ evaluating the boundaries of all the congressional, state Senate, state Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts following the 2020 Census. Your hard work certainly impacts all Californians and ultimately has the most significant impact on the most vulnerable and underrepresented of our community members.
We are significantly concerned and oppose the recent ” Congressional District Visualization” VCD_CUPERTINO 1107. The proposed visualization bifurcate San Benito County from its longstanding congressional partnership and critical communities of interest. For almost 50 years, San Benito County has been part of the same congressional district as Santa Cruz and Monterey County. Historically, the 16th district became the 17th district after the 1990 census and is the 20th district today. It consists of all of Monterey and San Benito Counties, plus most of Santa Cruz County. Consequently, on the November 2, 2021 meeting San Benito County was shown as part of the VCD_MIDCOAST_1102 visualization which includes the counties of Santa Cruz and Monterey, which corresponds to match with historical precedence and demographic similarities. Splitting San Benito County from its current congressional district would be a disaster to our region. The San Benito County Board of Supervisors would like the redistricting commission to keep San Benito County united with our rural neighboring County of Monterey. These visualizations do not adequately reflect the longstanding and historically significant relationships that exist between San Benito County, Monterey County, and Santa Cruz County. The central coast counties have a high agriculture presence, clean energy alliance, lack of affordable housing, lack of broadband access, and many other similar needs. The economies of San Benito and Monterey Counties continue to grow and diversify, sharing major employers, industries, and key economic indicators.
Additionally, the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), which is comprised of San Benito, Monterey, and Santa Cruz counties, have historically collaborated on public transit services and travel demand modeling due to aligned commuting patterns. We belong together to ensure that all our residents with shared interests have a stronger voice at the federal level. Grouping San Benito County with Santa Clara County will serve as an injustice to our community members as our highly populated neighbor would drown our representation. As a result, we are concerned that the two regions have many competing demands, values, and interests and that our County’s needs more closely align with that of Monterey County. We request to consider grouping San Benito County’s congressional district with the Central Coast counties as has been done historically.
We urge you to please evaluate the geographical needs of the region and its residents and give our request the highest level of consideration.
[Signed by all San Benito County Board of Supervisors: Bea Gonzales, Bob Tiffany, Kollin Kosmicki, Peter Hernandez, Betsy Dirks]