Letter to the Editor: Martinez needs an independent redistricting commission

Our grassroots group, Martinez Residents for an Independent Redistricting Commission, has been active in asking the City Council to establish an Independent Redistricting Commission to redraw the currently gerrymandered voting districts in Martinez. While some may argue that we don’t need districts in the first place and that our previous at-large voting system worked fine, and many agree on that, the fact is we do have voting districts and we are dissatisfied with they way that were established by the City Council. They made no secret of the fact that a primary consideration in the current map was political… the protection of the seats of incumbent city council members. The demographic consultant who drafted our current maps was explicitly instructed by the council to draw districts in such a way that they “avoid head-to-head contests between incumbents”. This is gerrymandering plain and simple and that is why we are asking for the city council to establish such a commission to redraw the voting districts.

The city is currently fighting a lawsuit that could have been avoided if they had not gerrymandered the Martinez voting districts. This suit has the potential to cost tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars which could be better spent on tackling local infrastructure projects, dealing with homelessness, or other important city priorities. An independent redistricting commission would provide a reasonable solution to the current lawsuit, provide a process devoid of political conflicts, be totally transparent, provide for local neighborhood input and result in fair representation for all Martinez residents.

We have the support of California Common Cause, a non-partisan organization dedicated to fair elections and good government. Our position has been endorsed by the Diablo Valley League of Women Voters.

With the help of Common Cause, our grassroots group has presented the Council with a proposed ordinance which would establish such a commission. We encourage our fellow Martinez residents who believe that politicians should not choose their voters but rather the voters should choose their politicians to please e-mail our Mayor (rschroder@cityofmartinez.org) or call (925 372 3501) and ask him to move forward with placing this item on the City Council’s agenda and passing an ordinance establishing an Independent Redistricting Commission and to stop wasting our tax dollars fighting an unwinnable lawsuit.

– Mike Fleming

A member of Martinez Residents for an Independent Redistricting Commission

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