Indio’s First Redistricting Cycle Set to Massively Fail Residents
Indio’s final decision will make or break the next decade for working families
City of Indio residents will take another stand on March 2, 2022, at 5:00 pm at the City’s final redistricting hearing. Indio made the switch from at-large elections in 2017 when it underwent its first districting process, making this inaugural redistricting cycle the first meaningful opportunity for Indio residents to shape their city – ever. The City Council has indicated that they will support a map that ignores the overwhelming testimony by city residents despite the fact that it will split their communities and will dilute their ability to choose elected representatives that will prioritize their needs fairly.
For months, residents across every district in Indio have been convening to discuss redistricting, defining their neighborhood commonalities, and their common priorities that deserve representation. Specifically, residents and volunteers mobilized by Communities for a New California Education Fund (CNC EF) and Indio Organizing Power have created a new city council map that meets the criteria of redistricting laws, reflects their communities of interest, and would ensure fair representation for working families and historically marginalized neighborhoods in Indio into the next 10 years. This work has culminated in Map 109, the Indio Resident’s United map.
Communities of interest are the center of redistricting work: the Supreme Court recognizes keeping communities of interest whole as a key part of the map-drawing process and the Fair Maps Act has newly established this as a priority in California. Communities of interest consist of overlapping sets of neighborhoods, networks, and groups that share common interests, priorities, cultures, languages, and values. Placing these communities of interest at the front of the process means that simply adjusting district boundaries at the edges to account for population is no longer sufficient.
Keeping working families, unfinished neighborhoods, and all communities of interest whole, as the Indio Resident’s United map does, puts the power back into the hands of constituents so they are able to advocate for themselves and elect candidates that truly reflect their neighborhoods and needs. Anna Lisa Vargas, CNC’s Indio Organizer and co-author of the Indio Resident’s United map, said, “Working families and priority needs have been ignored for far too long. Residents have spoken and favored a map that ensures the community voice will be represented. It seems that the majority of the council want to choose their voters instead of having the voters choose them – this undermines the redistricting process.”
The City of Indio’s process has been riddled with translation errors and a seeming lack of interest in equitably uplifting the voices of historically marginalized people. Residents have been directly mocked, insulted, and their concerns about a fair and accessible process have continually been dismissed by city councilmembers during public hearings. These pervasive issues stand as the barrier to residents’ voices being justly heard in a matter that impacts their lives.
Redistricting creates a real opportunity to enact meaningful change for the working families of Indio. What happens on March 2nd will shape every single vote for every resident for the next 10 years and will determine if working families have a decade of disenfranchisement or empowerment. Anna Lisa Vargas shared:
“The only person who really listened to residents of Indio was Mayor Pro Tem Oscar Ortiz. He is an example of what leadership in the City of Indio should be doing; uplifting a process that allows voters to choose their elected leaders, not the other way around. Our families have had their eyes opened during this process and will not be losing sight of how their voices and well-being have been ignored as city decisions are made going forward.”
City Councilmembers must not be short-sighted and only think of their own futures, but of the next 10 years beyond their own terms of leadership. Indio residents will not back down until all residents get the equitable representation they deserve.
Communities for a New California Education Fund is building a new power in the San Joaquin, Coachella, and Imperial valleys by inspiring working-class Californians to engage, activate and fight for social change in their neighborhoods. With the help of staff and volunteers from the very neighborhoods we serve, CNC EF organizes and mobilizes residents on public policy issues that impact our rural families and organizes to improve our neighborhoods.