Two supervisors request new commission responding to map referendum

Two supervisors request new commission responding to map referendum

CHICO — As part of an ongoing pushback against a district map selected by three of the Butte County Supervisors, supervisors Debra Lucero and Tami Ritter are advocating for creating an Independent Redistricting Commission.

Earlier in December, Lucero, Ritter and others announced a referendum to bring the map to a vote by the public which they are hoping to get enough signatures to place the map on the November 2022 ballot.

A press conference was held at 1431 Park Ave. in Chico, where the committee behind the referendum has opened up an office.

The committee behind the Butte County district map referendum opened an office at 1431 Park Ave. in Chico, California where petitions were laid out for the public to sign on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. (Jake Hutchison/Enterprise-Record)

Lucero said she planned to request that the option of creating the special commission at the Jan. 11 Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting.

In order for a commission to be approved, it will require a 3-2 vote by the board, meaning at least one of the supervisors who favored the map, Chair Bill Connelly and supervisors Dough Teeter and Tod Kimmelshue, would have to join Lucero and Ritter in the vote.

“Everything we do requires a majority vote to move forward,” Lucero said. “Except for the referendum. That’s why we’re doing a referendum, we can do that with the people. However, this would so it’s going to be up to our colleagues if they are going to vote for a redistricting commission or not.”

Creating the commission would require additional resources should it be approved. Lucero noted that there have been multiple meetings surrounding redistricting since discussions began earlier in 2021.

“It’s going to take staff time,” Lucero said. “Anything that takes research requires staff time, but I think that we’ve seen the fiasco. We’ve had 10 public meetings, we hired a redistricting firm for $80,000 and we still had a supervisor draw this from home.”

Ritter and Lucero said that the committee still needs roughly 6,000 signatures to go forward onto the ballot which will then need to be collected by Jan. 13 in order to be validated and filed by the Butte County Office of Elections.

Map A5C was selected by the board during its Dec. 7 meeting. The map was created by Kimmelshue and created two agricultural districts on the west side of Butte County, which was highly sought after by many in the agricultural industry locally but drew ire from Chico residents who were not in favor of splitting the city into four separate districts.

A special meeting was held on Dec. 22 at which point the board hired five outside attorneys from a Bay Area law firm in anticipation of legal litigation, as had been implied on multiple occasions throughout the redistricting process.

Concerns were shared over whether the selected map complied with the Fair Maps Act due to it being created by a government official rather than Chris Chaffee, a consultant hired by the board to draw a map.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors generally meets at 9 a.m. on the second and third Tuesday of the month at its chambers located at 25 County Center Drive, Suite 205 in Oroville. Meetings are free and open to the public. Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask while in the building.

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