During the county’s third public hearing for redistricting, a supervisor pushed the consulting company and staff to add additional hearings or workshops, despite unanimous approval of the existing schedule and contract.
The Tuesday hearing was the final meeting before draft maps are released in November. National Demographics Corporation representative Jeff Tilton said the point of the hearing was to give the public information on requirements for and the purpose of draft maps for new districts.
“You will probably hear 99.9% of the same information you heard in the first two (hearings) … that’s by design,” Tilton said. “A big part of these pre-draft map meetings is to educate the public.”
Redistricting is a process triggered every 10 years when a new census becomes available to ensure districts have even representation. Tilton said the drawing of new districts must follow certain rules to prevent gerrymandering and allow for no more than a 10% margin of error.
Tilton said, census data was released in mid-August, but draft maps shouldn't be drawn yet because the population hasn’t been adjusted for incarcerated persons. All incarcerated people will be counted as residents of their last known address, and he said they expect that to be done within the next few weeks.
Supervisor Richard Valle pushed NDC to be “proactive” by moving forward with the next steps in redistricting, including accepting draft maps and determining some of the requirements for the districts, before the incarceration data comes out because, he said, the change would be around 1,000 people.
Both Tilton and County Council Diane Freeman said the County absolutely cannot move forward with those steps until the final data is available. Freeman said once those numbers will help determine certain features of districts which would be required to make them legally defensible.
Valle also asked NDC to commit to doing more public hearings or workshops on redistricting in other towns in Kings County. While NDC has no control over that, Freeman said the Board could choose to amend the contract with NDC and add meetings.
He directed staff to bring forward recommended dates and plans for more hearings or workshops, and possible amendments to the NDC contract.
All hearing information, mapping tools and instructions are on redistrictingkings.com.
The next public hearing will happen at 6:30 p.m., Nov. 3. After final data is released and before Oct. 20, residents can draw and submit draft maps via the website, in order to show county officials what neighborhoods and communities of interest they want protected.