After receiving few applications from residents to serve on the City’s Advisory Redistricting Commission, the Council will draw new district lines with help from the community during several upcoming public hearings.
The boundaries for Turlock’s four City Council districts are redrawn every 10 years using new census data, reflecting how local populations have changed and ensuring each district is substantially equal in population.
In August, the Turlock City Council established the ARC and set forth requirements for community members hoping to help with the redistricting process, but only one application was received by the Sept. 4 deadline. Due to the lack of applicants, the Council voted on Sept. 28 to instead move forward with a different process which still allows for public engagement by hosting four public hearing meetings in the coming months.
Community members can voice their input on the redistricting process during meetings in October, November, January and March, with the final boundary adoption required by April.
The first public hearing, set for 11 a.m. Monday, will be facilitated by City staff in order to ensure all community members can voice their opinion. The remaining three meetings (6 p.m. Nov. 8, 6 p.m. Jan. 25 and 6 p.m. March 22) will be Council-facilitated.
“The [National Demographics Corporation] did say that there are times when the public feels more comfortable without Council present, so we would offer one where staff would handle the public hearing,” City Clerk Kellie Weaver told the Council on Sept. 28. “It will give the members of the community the ability to come forward without any uncomfortable feelings of speaking before Council.”
Weaver also informed Council that the City reached out to the community to encourage applications for the ARC but to no avail, with some unable to commit to Monday meetings. Councilmember Nicole Larson asked if the decision could be delayed in order to allow more time for enough ARC applicants, but Weaver explained that the City was already behind in the process and further delay could mean missing the April 17 boundary adoption deadline.
“This is one of the most important decision processes, I believe, that would affect how this Council looks, how our elections are conducted,” Larson said. “I really hate to see that not only fall on the politicians of the city, not only do I not like that part, but I also hate to see this opportunity missed for those that would really want to get involved…”
The first two public hearings will allow participating community members to provide input for the drafting of district maps by identifying neighborhoods, communities of interest and secondary areas in Turlock, as well as learn about the mapping tools used by NDC.
The last two meetings will give participants a chance to weigh in on draft maps by discussing and revising them and also provide input for election sequencing.
All four meetings will be held at City Hall, 156 South Broadway, in the Yosemite Room. Community members can also submit their input via email by sending testimony or maps to email@example.com. For more information about the City of Turlock’s redistricting process or upcoming meetings, visit www.redistrictturlock.org.