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District maps available for public comment

Mike Conway

Post Date:07/14/2015

Districting maps available at Committee meetings

The proposed maps creating City Council election districts will be on display at a series of meetings in the weeks ahead so people can comment on them, or even draw up their own maps.

The Independent Districting Advisory Committee has the job of drafting district maps to present to the City Council for consideration in September. It is currently having the public draft maps that will be considered in the selection of finalists for the Council.

The next two Committee meetings are: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at Rivera Middle School, 945 Buena Vista Dr. and 2 p.m. Saturday, August 1, at Tenaya Middle School, 760 W. 18th St.

The Committee also will have an information table at the Art Hop from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18, in Downtown Merced. The completed districting maps will be on display for comments at Art Hop, and people will be able to make up their own maps and submit them for consideration.

Anyone can attend any of the meetings, which are open to all members of the public.  Translation services in Spanish and Hmong will be available during the meetings.

When it creates the district maps for the City Council, the Committee needs to make sure it does not break up neighborhoods or communities of interests. Neighborhoods may be defined by creeks or streets, while communities of interest may be tied together by shared concerns for parks, churches or schools.

Comments from the public will help the Committee determine where to establish those district boundaries.

People who can't attend the meetings can still tell the Committee about their community in writing, or sketch out a map.

Drop off or send information to the committee at the City Clerk's Office:FONT-FAMILY: 'Tahoma','sans-serif'">

Merced Independent Districting Advisory Committee

c/o Merced City Clerk's Office

Merced Civic Center

678 W. 18th Street

Merced, CA 95340

Or email to: FONT-FAMILY: 'Arial','sans-serif'; COLOR: windowtext">

People with questions can call: (209) 385-6834.

On Nov. 4, 2014 voters approved Measure T amending the Merced City Charter to change the at-large election system to a single member district system. Voters in each district will elect a Council member to represent them. Three seats will be north of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Rail line and three will be south of the rail line. The Mayor's seat will continue to be elected in a city-wide at-large election.

The Independent Districting Advisory Committee will create two district maps for recommendation to the Merced City Council, which will select the final district boundaries.

There are federal and state legal requirements that will guide the map-making process, plus some criteria that are specific to Merced. The US Constitution requires districts contain roughly equal population and it and the federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) prohibit racial discrimination.

The federal Voting Rights Act also prohibits practices that have a discriminatory effect, such as at-large elections or districts that make it harder for a racial or language minority group to elect a representative of choice.

District elections will take effect in the November 2016 elections.

For the most updated schedule and information, please check the City's website, which contains information about the Committee at FONT-FAMILY: 'Arial','sans-serif'; COLOR: windowtext">

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