Around the world, California is world-renowned for our weather, pristine beaches, diversity, and famous attractions from Lake Shasta and San Francisco down to Los Angeles and San Diego. More recently, though, we’ve added another distinction to our state: historic, crushing deficits, the highest business and gas taxes in the nation, a state legislature bent on borrowing to pay for borrowed money, and a partisan gridlock unmatched anywhere in the country.
With the way our legislative districts are currently drawn, each side of the political aisle can be as stubbornly partisan and uncompromising without any fear of losing the next election. The partisans respond to special interests, not voters, and become out-of-touch with the needs of their district and constituents.
If you are tired of the same political gridlock that plagues our state, the partisan fights that forces one group of people so far right and the other so far left that nothing ever gets done, then you have an opportunity to make an impact and real change.
After decades of having political parties, politicians, and their high priced consultants dictate which voters they wanted to represent, California voters took control and approved a measure to dramatically alter the way in which legislative and Board of Equalization representation would be carried out in the future. This important vote gave life to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent commission made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four nonpartisan or minority-party members, that would be charged with drawing district boundaries for the state Senate, Assembly, and Board of Equalization.
For the first time, California voters, not the legislature, would have the vested authority to draw new legislative districts for state lawmakers – not the other way around. This commission would take the politics out of drawing legislative districts and instead of having politicians selecting their voters in carefully calculated political map-making, voters would be empowered with selecting their elected officials.
We have an opportunity to end the conflicts of interest, the political games, and end the status quo that blocked reform in the past. We have an opportunity to put the power of the government back in the hands of the people.
Through your associations, business groups, social networks and word of mouth, our state needs to get as many additional applicants as it can get. We need a successful outreach campaign where we can get a more representative body of applicants that reflects the demographic diversity of California.
California needs you.
Giving power back to the people can only be accomplished if all citizens participate and ensure that politicians are held accountable- those who draw the lines get to ensure that the districts are fair and that future elections are competitive, demanding responsiveness from our elected officials and cementing accountability in the process.
We can either have political parties and self-interested politicians determine the outcome of legislative races or we can put it in the hands of the voters, where it really belongs.
To apply, applicants must have voted in at least two of the state’s past three general elections, and they cannot have changed their party affiliation in the past five years. Each selected commissioner would be paid $300 per day worked, plus expenses.
The commissioners would be in charge of hiring technical staff, conducting hearings, evaluating data, and voting on final legislative maps.
The application process ends February 12, 2010.
For more information, membership requirements and to apply to the commission, visit www.WeDrawTheLines.ca.gov, or call (866) 356-5217. You can also follow the process on Twitter at @WeDrawTheLines and tag related tweets with #WeDrawTheLines.
Updated Citizens Redistricting Commission application data is available to the public at https://application.wedrawthelines.ca.gov/statistics.