by Joyce Devore

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January 19, 2012
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Census means new lines for Alpine

Last year the Census Bureau sent me a long questionnaire, which I completed, and then I received a call from a census worker inquiring about some of the answers. That was a first for me, and I have been wondering what happens to all that information. 

Then I received a notice from Alpine County Clerk Barbara Howard explaining that a citizen committee drew up new district lines, which were approved by the Board of Supervisors, and I would now be voting in a different district for our local election.

Howard graciously took time to explain how the 2010 census, Proposition 20, and a group of my peers worked together to make the changes that, among many other important issues, put approximately 50 Alpine County residents into new districts.

Every 10 years the Census Bureau makes a count of all people living in the country.

"That is not just voters, but every man, woman, and child living in each county of each state," she said. "It is so important for people to return the census questionnaires, but many people have the false belief that the questionnaire is an invasion of privacy."

So, we have everyone in the county counted and we have 1,175 people and 829 voters. There are already five districts in the county, but the population of the districts has shifted.

"We were forced to redistrict to make the number of people in each district more equal," Howard said.

Since California voters passed Prop 20 in November 2010, the power to redraw the districts for state legislature, Congressional Districts, and Board of Equalization, as well as local supervisor elections is given to a committee of citizens. The initiative is designed to prevent gerrymandering and increase the number of competitive congressional races.

If you are interested in Alpine County's new districts for legislature and congress, check the county website or California Secretary of State website.

Howard sought two citizens from each district to redraw the lines. She gave instructions recommending the committee consider the following factors: (a) topography, (b) geography, (c) cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity and compactness of territory, and (d) community of interests of the districts.

Item "d" indicates that it is best not to divide, for example, a senior citizen community, because then votes on issues affecting that community would be divided and thus unfairly counted.

Our committee met with the Board of Supervisors, who has the final decision to approve the new district lines, and began work.  Zack Wood, County Planner III, assisted with a computer map program and the lines were examined with regard to the fore-mentioned population changes and four guidelines.

The two ski resort populations remained in one district, and the other four districts were redrawn. District 1 now includes more people along Hwy 89. 

District 1 Supervisor Don Jardine happened to walk through the clerk's office during the interview, and he said, "I remember when District One included Hung a lel Ti because the census took place before people moved into the community."

District 2 picked up more people who were in District 5, again by using highways and roads as main dividing lines.

District 3 gained more people in the same manner. District 5 had proportionately too many people, so using the highways a boundaries, a few were added to 3.

When the new lines were presented to the Board and for public comment, they were unanimously approved.

This year we have elections in three County Supervisor Districts: 2, 3, and 5.

"One incumbent is retiring in District 2 and there are two candidates who are in the process of getting signatures on petitions in lieu of fees for filing for office," Howard said. "The incumbent in 3 is running, and the incumbent in 5 has a challenger."

In two more years there will be elections in the all the other elected offices in our county, sheriff/coroner, district attorney, superintendent of schools, treasurer, clerk,  assessor, and perhaps superior court judge.

"I am retiring (as county clerk) after the current term, and it has been a fun," Howard said.

Thank you to Howard for her time and patience explaining the new district lines. 

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The Record Courier Updated Jan 19, 2012 06:07PM Published Jan 19, 2012 06:05PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.