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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Referendum process begins for map of newly adopted Butte County district

CHICO – The Oxford Suites hallway leading to its conference room was lined with large white posters with “Vote Numbers on Butte County Gerrymandering” in large, bold type Friday.

In the conference room, observers Debra Lucero and Tammy Ritter, joined by several others, prepared to announce a referendum against the map of the newly adopted Butte County district, which was approved by the Board of Observers on Tuesday. 2 was approved.

The referendum was announced Friday via a press conference at the hotel, where Lucero and Ritter were joined by North State Labor Federation president Justin Meyers and Morgan Kennedy, who will organize and lead the referendum, as speakers.

Supervisor Tammy Ritter speaks during a press conference for the newly announced Butte County district map referendum on Friday, December 17, 2021 in Chico, Calif. (Jake Hutchison / Enterprise-Record)

Map A5C, designed by supervisor Todd Kimmelshu, was endorsed and approved by himself as well as board supervisor and chairman Bill Connelly and supervisor Doug Teeter after months of controversy. Board chambers often saw large numbers of public, frequent clashes with the board, and long public comment periods.

Many early maps were thrown out unanimously, while others were held tightly and up for debate. One particular map was the subject of heated discussion because it was created by a Republican strategist only to be tossed by the observer who presented it.

The chosen map was one of three that made it to the final vote on Tuesday and was the only one that was not drawn by Chris Chaffee, the consultant hired by the county to create the map.

Dozens of Butte County residents took part in the referendum to hear speakers, sign the referendum, and donate money to the cause.

Ritter expressed his frustration at the county hiring firm Redistricting Partners for not selecting a map prepared only by consultants.

“We had the opportunity to work with a consultant, a consultant who was non-partisan who was brought in from outside the county,” Ritter said. “And I want to reiterate, on taxpayer money. So over $80,000 was spent to produce the non-biased maps, only our colleagues didn’t even consider the maps.

Ritter further stated that the selected map, the community of interest to the A5C, was only given after the map was created as a means of protecting the map and advancing it.

“That’s not how the process is supposed to work,” Ritter said. “The maps that our consultants made before the criteria were given illegally in an illegal way were justified. They were legal and they protected communities of interest. It was really disappointing to see that my colleagues have such a blatant disregard for the public they serve. Politicians should not choose their voters, voters should choose their representatives.

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Referendum process begins for map of newly adopted Butte County district
A packed house is seen for a press conference regarding the referendum on Friday, December 17, 2021, in the Honey Run Room of the Oxford Suite in Chico, California. (Jake Hutchison / Enterprise-Record)

The two biggest factors in the Butte County mapping process this time saw such major changes were the Camp Fire displacing so many Foothills residents and the relatively new Fair Maps Act providing guidelines for the process. This made for a more dramatic restructuring than the previous district map adopted in 2011.

Lucero said she understood that the fire would cause major changes to the line, but she was not in favor of how the process went with other observers voting on the A5C. He also condemned the division of Chico into four districts and Auroville into three districts when the maps drawn up by the advisor were able to avoid those divisions.

“To the east, we see many areas going into the Paradise District,” Lucero said. “We knew that because Chico’s has such a population, we couldn’t fit in two districts, we had to fit in three and we’re okay with that. We’ve always been okay with it. It’s just the way you put it.” My colleagues have developed crab-like features to grab parts of our city and take them to Gridley, to Heaven, and to divide the city of Chico.”

Kennedy, who coordinated the referendum, said she has experience running them in the past, adding that she has never failed to get the votes needed to go to the ballot.

Once the speakers were in, the signature forms were placed on a table in the front of the room, where attendees would quickly line up to sign on. Ritter and Lucero were among the first to sign.

Kennedy said that for the referendum to go ahead, the group would have to collect 8,900 valid signatures by 4 p.m. on January 13 for it to be on the June ballot.

“I have full confidence that it will be successful,” Kennedy said.

The newspaper reached out to Kimelshu, Teeter and Connelly for comment, but did not receive a response by the deadline.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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