By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer
South Sacramento community leaders, homeowners, and former politicians expressed concern this past week about a Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission (SIRC) proposal to divide City Council District 8.
The proposed redrawn district map would place part of Meadowview in District 5. Speaking at Genesis Baptist Church, community members said the split would affect community services, neighborhood associations and political power for District 8’s approximately 29,000 residents.
“We are concerned that Meadowview is once again being divided through redistricting to meet the population requirements of a district that doesn’t represent their interest,” said Genesis Church Senior Pastor Dr. Tecoy Porter. “Great strides have been made in District 8, where voters here can have a voice and really choose their representatives.”
The SIRC finalized its proposed map Dec. 8; it is publicly available at its next meeting Dec. 16. At that meeting, SIRC was to cast a vote for adoption before sending it to the City Council for approval.
The commission said it made its decision by starting in the south of the city and working north. Former state Gambling Control Commissioner Lauren Hammond, who represented District 5 from 1997 to 2010, expressed skepticism.
“I don’t see how that’s possible,” said Hammond, who worked on redistricting maps as a councilmember. “If you started in the south, why in the world would you cut out Parkway, Pollock Pines, other parts of Meadowview, and then go north?
“I understand this sounds esoteric, but let’s put it this way: smaller houses, smaller paychecks, and bigger families. There just are more people in this part of Sacramento. But why should they be sacrificed for the Central City (parts of District 5)?”
After the U.S. Census is done every 10 years, Sacramento must redraw boundaries for its council districts. Census information from 2019 reported the city had more than 513,000 residents, African Americans accounting for 13.2%. The Black population in Meadowview is around 21%.
District 8 had its largest voter turnout (19,611) in 2020 when Mai Vang defeated Les Simmons, senior pastor of South Sacramento Christian Center, in a runoff.
In 2016, 3,811 votes were cast in District 8 when incumbent Larry Carr (2,666) beat community organizer Ronald Bell (1,145). Simmons attributed the increase in voters to community engagement.
Meadowview lacked city council representation until 1981.
“All of the district representatives then came from the Pocket or Greenhaven area,” Carr said. “Actually, there has only been a couple of councilmembers that represented (Meadowview) in Bob Matsui and Lynn Robbie. Good people but Greenhaven Pocket people. After the redistricting [in 1991], we were able to get our own representatives in Sam Pannell, followed by his wife Bonnie Pannell, and myself.”
According to the city’s website, district boundaries must be balanced in population in accordance with local, state, and federal rules that govern redistricting. In the coming decade, each district will have approximately 63,000 residents.
The SIRC was created in 2020 to set council district boundaries after voters in 2016 elected to create it. It has worked on the process for about a year and did invite the public to submit maps for consideration.
Hammond, the first Black woman elected to the Sacramento city council, said redistricting opened the door for her to represent Curtis Park and Oak Park on the council. The process can be fair, she said, if it allows opportunities for minorities to seek public office.
“Politically, people have to engage,” Hammond said. “[The 2020 turnout] is significant because it shows that there is voter engagement and community participation. What will the new lines do? I have no idea but I know it won’t be good.”
The SIRC’s Dec. 16 meeting can be viewed on the City of Sacramento website via Zoom:
Webinar ID: 947 6400 2028
Dial in via telephone: 888-788-0099 (Toll Free) – Meeting ID: 947 6400 2028 # #
How to Submit Written Comments:
Written comments received are distributed to members, filed in the record, and will not be read aloud. Members of the public are encouraged to submit public comments electronically via eComment through the City’s official website at https://meetings.cityofsacramento.org