In November, voters changed our COWnty Charter from COWntywide elections for the Board of Supervisors so that now only voters within a district can elect a Supervisor who lives in that same district to represent them. The change is the result of a lawsuit settlement reached in February with a group of Asian and Latino voters who claimed the COWnty’s at-large system for electing supervisors diluted their voting power. In the past 25 years, only one Hispanic person and no one of Asian descent has been elected as a Supervisor, despite making up more than 50% of the residents of our COWnty. San Mateo was the only county in California to have Supervisors elected at large from the entire county instead of by district. As a part of the lawsuit, which was settled in January, the the Board of Supervisors created the nine-member Boundary Adjustment Committee and tasked it to conduct hearing public comment, studying current and potential boundaries and recommending possible adjustments.
The COWmmittee was selected by County Manager John Maltbie and includes two current Supervisors, Warren Slocum and Adrienne Tissier; as well as a city council member from Daly City; a city council member from East Palo Alto; and five members of the public, one from each District. Barbara Arietta of Pacifica will represent Woodside’s District 3 on the commission.
The COWmmittee will hold 5 public meetings. There will be a report from a demographer who will explain how to use an online mapping tool to review the current boundaries and draw possible districts. The applicable standards noted on the COWNTY website are: “Under State election law, districts must be approximately equal in population. In establishing the boundaries of the districts the Board of Supervisors may give consideration to the following factors: (a) topography, (b) geography, (c) cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, and compactness of territory, and (d) community of interests of the districts.” The Cowmmittee will also receive public comment.
The kick-off meeting was held Thursday, June 6, at 6:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 725 Monte Diablo Ave., San Mateo. Four additional meetings will be held throughout the COWnty. If you cannot attend a public meeting, comments can be sent by email to DistrictLines@smcgov.org
At the July meeting in Millbrae, the COWmmittee will consider possible boundary changes. The draft changes will be presented to the public at additional meetings scheduled in late summer. The recommended changes are due to the Board by Oct. 8th, according to the settlement. The goal is to have the new districts ready for the June 2014 election.