Redistricting, Round Two: Drawing Local Legislative Lines

Just when you thought we were almost done talking about redistricting, it's time to refuel and prepare for another round of discussions about legislative line drawing - this time on the local level. The latest redistricting battle concerns lines for the little known, but super power powerful five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

The redistricting process - which occurs every ten years to ensure that residents are fairly represented based on the number and location of residents in districts - has become the stage for a fierce local political confrontation. While you may not know their names, the five-member, non-partisan Board makes decisions with far reaching implications for residents of Los Angeles County. The Board of Supervisors is the county's governing body. The five members are limited to serving three consecutive four-year terms. Each member represents close to 2 million people.

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The main questions which will be answered by this latest round of redistricting seem to be whether the new lines will, for the first time, lead to a board where nonwhites are the majority, and whether the lines will increase the power of Democrats on the local level.

In past rounds of redistricting, districts were gerrymandered to create majority-minority districts, which have lead to a majority-Latino district, and a plurality African American district.

Latinos now comprise nearly half of the county's population (48%), and one-third of the county's possible voters. Some are pushing for the creation of a second Latino-majority district. Supervisor Gloria Molina and Latino activists are supporting such a plan, which would dramatically alter the currents districts of Don Knabe (R) and Zev Yaroslavsky (D). In addition to being termed out in 2014, Yaroslavsky is rumored to be running for Los Angeles mayor in 2012. The stakes are, therefore, somewhat lower for Yaroslavsky than for Knabe, who can run for one more term, and who would be drawn into a majority-minority district much more heavily democratic than his current district.

An alternative plan, backed by representatives of Yaroslavsky, Knabe and Michael Antonovich (R), would largely preserve the status quo.

A Boundary Review Commission prepared a report detailing recommended boundary changes. The Board of Supervisors will soon adopt a redistricting plan.

Read more on redistricting in L.A. County

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