Konda: California redistribution commission must hear from Silicon Valley
For the first time in 10 years, residents of Silicon Valley have the opportunity to shape our representation in government and hold elected officials accountable for our interests, from affordable housing to good jobs and health care.
Through a national process called redistribution, each state uses data from the 2020 census to determine which areas elected officials represent. Each neighborhood should have an equal number of residents and should aim to hold together neighborhoods and communities with common interests.
Over the next few months, community members and local civil rights organizations in our area will be holding meetings and workshops to help residents inform the California redistribution process.
Beginning in 2011, an independent redistribution commission decides redistribution lines for the Assembly, State Senate, and Congressional Districts in California. This commission-led process has resulted in one of the most transparent and non-partisan redistribution efforts in the country. Yet the benefits of the participatory commission process can only be realized if as many people as possible get involved.
In Silicon Valley, we have already done this by talking about our common interests and the common goals and aspirations we have with our neighbors.
In the 2001 redistribution process, state legislators then in charge of the redistribution divided the Berryessa neighborhood of San José into four Assembly districts and two State Senate districts. After years of defending their interests together, Berryessa’s neighbors could no longer voice their concerns to common representatives. On every issue, it was a struggle to get the attention of politicians.
This is how Berryessa’s neighbors organized themselves. In public hearings held in our area, the people of Berryessa came together and asked the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to unite the neighborhood into one district. My organization, the Asian Law Alliance, has joined with Asian Americans for Community Involvement, the Vietnamese American Roundtable, the Berryessa Citizens Advisory Council, and the Pakistani American Community Center to ensure residents know when hearings are due. place and understand the state process.
During regional hearings, residents of Berryessa explained to commissioners how they defined their community and shared what unites them with their neighbors. As part of a larger coalition, they submitted maps to show how the neighborhood could stay together in a district.
Later that year, the commission released its final maps, and Berryessa was reunited into unique districts of the State Assembly and Senate, a testament to the strength and perseverance of the tight-knit community.
This summer, the redistribution process begins again. Residents of Silicon Valley have the opportunity to advocate for our common interests so that we can empower our communities, especially those who have historically been left behind in local and national politics.
There are several ways to get involved:
- You can tell the Commissioners about your community before they start drawing the new maps at the regional meetings that will be held throughout the summer. You can find meeting agendas and notices at www.wedrawthelinesca.org/
- Visit DrawMyCACommunity.org to draw a map of your community that will be sent directly to the commission.
- Contact my organization, Asian Law Alliance, and attend our webinars and information sessions throughout the summer. You can find more information about events for Silicon Valley residents at asianlawalliance.org/
No matter who we are or where we live, we all want to have a say in the decisions that shape our lives, especially as we try to get through COVID-19 and recover in a way that uplifts everyone. . By getting involved in the California redistribution process in 2021, Silicon Valley has the opportunity to ensure that our voices and needs are heard.
Richard Konda is Executive Director of the Asian Law Alliance, a nonprofit organization that strives to provide equal access to the justice system to residents of the Asian Pacific Islands and low-income populations of Silicon Valley.