California Redistricting Commissioner Discusses Finalized Maps, Part 1
California redistricting commissioner Ray Kennedy spoke with KVCR's Jonathan Linden to discuss the final redrawn maps that were approved at the end of December.
Jonathan Linden: You're listening to 91.9 KVCR News, and I'm Jonathan Linton. Today, I'm joined by Ray Kennedy, who is a commissioner on the California Redistricting Commission. The group of 14 individuals made up of Republicans, independents, and Democrats were tasked with the responsibility of redrawing state and congressional districts based off the 2020 census. On Dec. 27, the final maps were certified by the commission and sent to the California Secretary of State. To start, Commissioner Kennedy, can you give listeners an overview of what the redistricting process looks like and where we are now?
Ray Kennedy: Well, you know, one of the main elements of this redistricting cycle, of course, was the pandemic, which significantly delayed our receipt of the census data. And fortunately for us, the Legislature in 2020 had filed a suit in the California Supreme Court to compel the secretary of state to accept maps from us after the constitutional deadline of Aug. 15. So the ruling from the California Supreme Court in July of 2020 said that the maps would be due by Dec. 15, plus any additional delay in receipt of the census results beyond Jul. 31. So since we received the census results or since the state received the census results in mid-August, essentially, our deadline went beyond Dec. 15 and ended up being on Dec. 27. The 14 of us, eight of us chosen at random through bingo balls, and then the eight of us chose the other six. Fourteen of us got started setting things up for this work in August of 2020. And, you know, it took a lot of effort to just get the ship up and running with staff and procedures and policies and so forth. When we once we did receive the census results, we were ready to start visualizing what the districts might look like. We went through several iterations of visualizations before we actually came up with our preliminary draft maps. We did that at a meeting in San Diego in early November and then took public feedback on those maps starting in mid-November, actually late November, because the maps were subject to a two-week freeze which ended just before Thanksgiving. And so we did receive feedback during that period, as well as after that period. We continued to receive feedback on the maps through the very end of the process and then gathered in Sacramento starting on Nov. 29. And it was pretty much a full-time dash from Nov. 29 to get the maps ready by Dec. 27.
Jonathan Linden: Yeah. And can you tell listeners a little bit more about how you decide to draw these lines down the streets that you do and what not?
Ray Kennedy: Well, you know, the main thing is coming up with a concept of what districts might be, what they might look like. And we received over the summer quite a bit of input from communities, from individuals telling us, you know, who they considered to be part of their community, what they considered their community to be, who they wanted to be grouped with, who they didn't want to be grouped with. And we tried our best to take all of that input into consideration. And just because someone said something doesn't mean that it's necessarily going to show up in the maps, but we did consider all of the input that we received and tried to come up with districts that made sense from the perspective of what we were hearing from people.