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In 2008, Californian’s voted in favor of Proposition 11, which gave the job of drawing legislative district lines to a new Citizens Redistricting Commission. Just two weeks ago, those same voters expanded the commission’s powers to include the responsibility to draw the congressional districts. Up until now, the boundaries of legislative and congressional districts were drawn every 10 years by state legislators and approved by the Governor. .
This past Thursday the process of picking the members of the new commission began. Eight voters were chosen by lottery from 36 applicants. Six more members will be picked from the same pool. The candidate pool for the commission began last year with 20,000 applicants, which was narrowed through a series of steps which ended with 60 names to be reviewed by State Auditor Elaine Howle. Legislators were empowered to remove 24 people from the pool by filing objections with the commission, which they did last week.
The eight members, by party, are:
Jeanne Raya: A resident of San Gabriel, she is a former president of CA La Raza Lawyers Association. Recently she has been vice chairman of the San Gabriel Community Association in Los Angeles. She was a poll monitor for the Obama campaign in 2008.
Elaine Kuo: A resident of Mountain View, she has written a number of academic books including one on English as a second language and one on problems faced by Asian American students.
Cynthia Dai: She lives in San Francisco (MBA from Stanford) and stated that one of her reasons for applying for the commission was to give the "underrepresented a voice" in the redistricting process. She is also co-leader of the "Free Jude Shao" campaign led by former Stanford classmates to obtain release of Shao, a dissident in a Chinese prison.
Peter Yao: Born in Shanghai, China, he is a member of the Claremont City Council and a member of the League of California Cities. He stressed in his application his experience working with state and local officials at all levels of government.
Vincent Barabba: A resident of Santa Cruz, he served twice as head of the United States Census Bureau in the 1970s and 1980s and was appointed by both Presidents Reagan and Bush to the United Nations Commission on Population. The 76-year-old retired businessman (research and polling firm DMI) has authored a number of books on demographic trends, and is past president of the American Statistical Association.
Jodie Webber: She is an attorney in Norco with a law firm that specializes in workers compensation defense. She has defended the Regents of the University of California in workers compensation cases. She is also a member of the Corona Norco Republican Women's club.
Stanley Forbes: A resident of Davis, he served on the school board and city council. He said in his application that he has studied the growing diversity of the state's population, and that he had promoted bilingual education while on the school board. He and his former wife own the Avid Reader bookstore in Sacramento and Davis.
Connie Galambos Malloy: A resident of Oakland, she has served on a number of non-profit boards. She is the diversity director for the California chapter of the American Planning Association. She is also an active member of the Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora that helps "adoptees of African descent."Once the full membership is chosen, the commission will use 2010 census data to redraw the districts for the 2012 election for 40 Senate seats, 80 Assembly seats and four seats on the Board of Equalization. In addition, the commission will draw the lines for California’s 53 congressional seats.
In addition to the new lines in 2012 is the new open primary law passed by voters last year. Under this system, candidates from all political parties will compete in the same primary in 2012 with the top two vote getters advancing to the general election even if they are members of the same party. The new open primary law, in combination with the redistricting, radically changes a system that has long protected incumbents.