This month, the city of Chula Vista will seek individuals for a new ad-hoc commission whose mission will be to draw new voting district lines for the city. It would be important that this commission be diverse in every sense of the word which is why the word should be spread.
The reason for dividing the city into four districts is to make the council members more accountable to the residents. At the moment, each of the four council members represent the whole city. There is an old adage that says, “when everyone is accountable, no one is accountable.” This couldn’t be more true with city-wide representation. Since no one represents any specific area, there is no accountability for certain community issues. A road in your community needs repair? Go talk to the City Manager. Not enough parks? Sorry, nothing that can be done. There is no library near you? Too bad.
So this is why, in November 2012, Chula Vista residents voted to switch to district elections. With this change, council members will represent different areas of the city. They will still decide city-wide issues but will be more sensitive to their respective districts. This change is supposed to be phased in within four years - beginning with the 2016 elections and ending in 2018. The new commission will be tasked with drawing the lines for those new districts this year.
To be eligible for the new commission candidates must be registered to vote in the city. There are also some restrictions but the vast majority of residents would qualify. For example, applicants must not: a) be related to a current government official, b) been an elected official in the last four years, c) be an employee of the city, d) be an employee of a labor union, e) be a lobbyist, f) been a paid political campaign worker, and finally, g) be an officer of political party. Most residents don’t fall within those restrictions and all of those who are interested should be encouraged to apply.
Diversity in this commission is important. For example, it goes without saying but Commissioners should come from different areas of the city. Also, there should also be gender equality within the new group. People with Asian and Pacific Island heritage make up about 20% of the population, yet they are not very well represented in local government. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen with this group.
With districts, each council member will now have to answer to his district’s constituents and the temporary commission will decide how the districts are drawn. The application process will be open for about 30 days and the commission will only meet for about a year. If this sounds like an interesting challenge, apply with the City Clerk.