One Last Chance to Get Redistricting Right in Merced
Merced’s final decision can make or break the next decade for working families
The city of Merced is at a critical point in its redistricting process as the district lines that will dictate city elections and representation for the next decade will be finalized on March 7, 2022, at 6:00 PM during the scheduled city council meeting.
For months, residents across every district in Merced 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 Power California 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 South Merced, working families, and young people into the next 10 years. This work has culminated in Map 106, the Merced Forward Together 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 South Merced, working families, and student communities whole, as the Merced Forward Together 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. CNC EF’s Merced Organizer, Rosa Inguanzo, said, “to split these communities of interest means diluting the power of our vote and voice, effectively disenfranchising our neighborhoods. This is why redistricting is so critical – working families in Merced cannot afford to be overlooked for another decade.”
The City of Merced’s process has been riddled with translation errors, a recommendation from it’s advisory council to only adjust the maps minimally despite the Fair Maps Act and opposing community testimony, and a seeming lack of interest in equitably uplifting the voices of historically marginalized people. These pervasive issues stand as the barrier between residents’ voices being properly heard and effective in influencing the final district maps.
Redistricting creates a real opportunity to enact meaningful change for the working families of Merced. What happens on March 7th 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. Mayte Aquilar Cruz, CNC organizer from Merced, said, “The Merced City Council must choose to maintain the status quo, or listen to its constituents, but it cannot be both.” 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.
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.