[KHTS] – The Santa Clarita Community College District held its third public meeting at Newhall Elementary School on Wednesday to approve one of six maps for dividing the district into five trustee areas.
The maps were proposed by the National Demographics Corporation and were presented by NDC President, Douglas Johnson, at the board’s first public meeting on Oct. 13 at College of the Canyons.
Under the new “by-trustee area” voting system, members of the board are elected by the voters of the trustee area in which they reside.
All of the proposed maps separate the SCCCD, into five separate trustee areas with one trustee representing each area.
“We hired a demographer to do the studies, we gave them our thoughts on it and it’s just another step that we have taken to do what is right,” said Bruce Fortine, vice president of the SCCCD Board of Trustees.
On Wednesday evening, the SCCCD Board of Trustees voted in favor of Map A.
The district voted to change its election system from “at-large” voting to “by-trustee area” voting in response to a lawsuit alleging that COC violated the California Voting Rights Act.
“The California Voters Rights Act is to allow for everybody to have representation. The college was sued and the answer to that was to go from at large districts to area districts,” said Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, president of the College of the Canyons Faculty Association.
During the meeting, some said that the proposed maps promote incumbent gerrymandering.
“It is an area where local government are allowed to draw maps with incumbency in mind to a certain degree,” said David Andrus, political science professor at College of the Canyons.
“But it does raise questions about whether or not they actually drew them with residency in mind as opposed to blindly drawing districts based on socio-demographic data and then of course later looking at where the trustees live.”
In response to the allegation that the maps promote incumbent gerrymandering, Eric Harnish, vice president of public information at College of the Canyons said, “The ten criteria that were adopted to guide the drawing the maps were followed in the six maps that were produced.”
“One of the criterion was that trustees not be paired in districts so it’s certainly permitted by case law,” Harnish added.
The plan to adopt Map A now goes to the state Board of Governors and, if approved, will be implemented in the Nov. 2016 board elections.