After some controversy regarding a majority-white pool of candidates, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb (District One) introduced the City of Oakland’s first independent redistricting commission. This is what Schaaf and Kalb said in their statements, released today, and sent to Zennie62Media:
“Congratulations to the fifteen commissioners selected to serve on Oakland’s first-ever independent Redistricting Commission (link). This citizen’s commission will draw Oakland’s very first set of new election borders free of political influence, based on 2020 Census Data to apply to the 2022 City Council and School Board elections. I’m grateful to my co-authors Councilmember Dan Kalb, the League of Women Voters and Oakland Rising who worked with me way back in 2014 to write Measure DD, which passed with 61.45 percent of the vote and established this independent process that finally debuts this year. Oaklanders, be proud we’re one of the only cities in the country to use this transparent, public process that keeps politicians from getting to draw their own election boundaries. It’s a great advance for democracy.”
“I’m thrilled that our Redistricting Commission is getting started and will do the hard work necessary to ensure equitable representation throughout Oakland,” Councilmember Dan Kalb said. “As one of the authors of the ballot measure that created the Commission, I’m glad the voters agreed that elected officials should not draw their own district lines. I know the Commission will fulfill its commitment to an Oakland where all can participate in the political process and where everyone has a voice.”
Then, on Facebook, Councilmember Kalb added this:
This was the ballot measure that Libby and I authored in 2014 to make sure local elected could not draw their own district lines.
Here’s the City of Oakland’s presentation of the final 15 commissioners (although, this time, they avoided including a breakdown by race and sex, for some reason):
On August 27, 2020, the first six Redistricting Commissioners selected nine Oakland residents to join the Commission. Those selected include: Tracy McKnight (District 1); Shirley Gee (District 2); Amber Blackwell (District 3); Paul Marshall (District 4); Masoud “Matt” Hamidi (District 5); Martha Hernandez (District 6); Daniel Chesmore (District 6); Gloria Crowell (District 7); and Tejal Shah (District 7).
The first six Commissioners were announced on July 22, 2020, after their names were randomly drawn by Acting City Clerk Asha Reed from a 30-person applicant pool. They were tasked with selecting seven additional voting members and two alternate members from the remaining applicant list. The first six Commissioners include: Jan Stevens (District 1); Benjie Achtenberg (District 2); Lilibeth Gangas (District 3); Diana Miller (District 4); Stephanie Goode (District 5); and Mary Velasco (District 6).
All members were vetted through a three-person Screening Panel prior to their selection to the Redistricting Commission. The Redistricting Commission is comprised of 13-voting members and two alternate members, with Commissioners Chesmore and Hamidi serving as the alternate members. The alternate members will actively and fully participate in the Commission’s work. The Commissioners are tasked with setting new district boundaries for City Council and School Board of Directors districts upon conclusion of the 2020 U.S. Census.
“We prioritized geographic location, racial, ethnic and economic diversity as we reviewed the applicant pool and thoughtfully made our selections,” Commissioner Gangas said. “We strived to represent the dynamic demographic characteristics of Oakland based on the applicant pool.”
“Our job is to ensure a fair and equitable process in determining the new district boundaries for Oakland,” Commissioner Velasco said. “We have Commissioners of different backgrounds and experiences from across Oakland, and who all indicated a willingness to set aside our own self interests in accomplishing our work.”
“We encourage residents, groups, and organizations to get involved in our work,” Commissioner Stevens said. “As a new Commission, we want the community to know of the work we are doing and will strive to make the redistricting process as open and transparent as possible.”
The Redistricting Commission will begin its work in the fall of 2020 and will approve the new district boundaries by December 31, 2021. The Commissioners are eligible to serve one term, which concludes when the final district maps are approved.
For additional information on the Redistricting Commission, or to receive email notifications on the Commission’s work, visit: http://www.oaklandca.gov/redistricting and select the ‘Register’ icon.