CHICO — In an ongoing pushback against a district map selected by three of Butte County’s supervisors, supervisors Debra Lucero and Tami Ritter are advocating for the creation of an independent redistricting commission.
Earlier in December, Lucero, Ritter and others announced a referendum to put the map to a public vote which they hope will 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 an office.
Lucero said she plans to ask for the option to create the special commission at the Butte County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 11.
For a commission to be approved, it will require a 3-2 vote from the board, which means that at least one of the supervisors who favored the card, chairman Bill Connelly and supervisors Dough Teeter and Tod Kimmelshue, are expected to join Lucero and Ritter in the vote.
“Everything we do requires a majority vote to move forward,” Lucero said. “Except for the referendum. This is why we are having a referendum, we can do it with the people. However, it would therefore be up to our colleagues to decide whether they will vote for a redistricting commission or not.
The establishment of the commission would require additional resources if approved. Lucero noted that there have been several meetings around redistricting since talks began earlier in 2021.
“It’s going to take staff time,” Lucero said. “Anything that requires research takes staff time, but I think we saw the fiasco. We had 10 town hall meetings, we hired a recutting company for $80,000 and we still had a supervisor pulling this from his house.
Ritter and Lucero said the committee still needs about 6,000 signatures to go through with the ballot, which must then be collected by Jan. 13 in order to be validated and filed by the Butte County Elections Office.
The A5C card was selected by the board at its December 7 meeting. The map was created by Kimmelshue and created two farming districts on the west side of Butte County, which was highly sought after by many in the local farming industry, but angered Chico residents who weren’t not in favor of dividing the city into four separate districts. .
A special meeting was held on December 22, where the board hired five outside attorneys from a Bay Area law firm in anticipation of legal litigation, as had been implied at several times throughout the redrawing process.
Concerns were shared over whether the selected map complied with the Fair Maps Act as it was created by a government official rather than Chris Chaffee, a consultant hired by the council to draw a map.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors typically meets at 9 a.m. on the second and third Tuesdays of the month in 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 must wear a mask in the building.