San Benito County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 9 identified its preferred draft district map, and it closely resembles the existing one. National Demographics Corporation will present a final map on Nov. 23 for possible adoption.
Senior Elections Deputy Clerk Ana De Castro Marquiz told BenitoLink the new districts will take effect 30 days after they are adopted by the Board of Supervisors. The board has until Dec. 15 to adopt a new district map.
At the supervisors meeting, senior consultant Jeff Tilton with National Demographics Corporation, presented four draft maps that complied with state and federal laws. Two were submitted by the public through a mapping tool available on the county’s website, and two came from the firm.
Tilton said that no matter how the districts are redrawn, supervisors will still be able to finish their term.
“You were voted in or appointed in for a term and you finish that term,” Tilton said, adding that the supervisors would represent the same district after the new map is adopted.
Supervisors Bob Tiffany and Bea Gonzales asked Tilton why the maps provided by NDC were so significantly different from the public’s. On the option labeled NDC1, one district included the entire rural area wrapping around Hollister and three other districts focused in and around Hollister. NDC2 was another version of the same concept, but a portion of the rural area on the northeast side of Hollister became its own district. (Numbers included in those maps do not correspond to the districts.)
“I figured if we’re paying for your services we didn’t get our money’s worth,” Gonzales said. “It just seems like it wasn’t a wise investment of our time.”
Tilton said he could not speak to the intent because maps were drawn by NDC President Doug Johnson.
“Knowing him, he’ll sometimes draw the most radical maps and then the jurisdiction, governing board will come back and say ‘make this adjustment,’” Tilton said. He later added that sometimes it’s a matter of starting somewhere and working with feedback from the public and jurisdictions.
Three public members, including the San Benito County Republican Party Chairman Robert Bernosky and San Benito County Business Council President Jim Gillio, shared the opinion that not splitting up the rural areas between districts could be problematic.
“I would hesitate to put such a large district that all of supervisors don’t have part of the agricultural base as part of their district so they are forced to stay tuned with the agriculture heritage and economic base that we have in San Benito County,” Bernosky said. “If you concentrate just one supervisor in it, the other four, who have an equal vote, may not be as informed because they don’t have as many constituents as they have today in the agricultural, more rural area.”
While there was discussion on how the redistricting affects current supervisors and the area they represent, Celeste Toledo-Bocanegra and Elia Salinas said that should not be of any concern.
“I know your positions as supervisors are feeling uneasy because you represent your district but at the end it’s like a refresher for the whole community,” Toledo-Bocanegra said. “I’m kind of excited to see what the end result is no matter what it is.”
We need your help. Support local, independent news. BenitoLink is a nonprofit news website that reports on San Benito County. Our team is committed to this community and providing essential, accurate information to our fellow residents. It is expensive to produce local news and community support is what keeps the news flowing. Please consider supporting BenitoLink, San Benito County’s news.