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District Election Boundaries focus of public hearings

The City of Visalia must develop five City Council districts for use starting with the 2016 City Council election. Legal requirements and traditional criteria for the drawing of the lines were approved by the Council at its Aug. 4, 2014 meeting with Resolution 2014-34. The legal requirements are: equal population in each district; comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act, and race cannot be the ‘predominate factor’ in the drawing of lines. The traditional “good government” criteria approved by Council to develop districts include: keep together communities of interest, including school and park-connected neighborhoods, rural or urban populations, city planning areas, social interests and agricultural, industrial, or service industry interests; use visible features as district boundaries where possible; keep districts compact and contiguous; avoid pairing incumbents; and accommodate planned population growth to the degree possible.

A series of four community forums were held to help the public understand the process and the criteria to be used to draw the districts. Free public participation kits were made available on the website and at City Hall to provide the tools to the public to enable them to submit their own boundary proposal for discussion and consideration by citizens and the City Council.

A total of 12 maps were submitted by the public and these maps and their demographic summaries were posted on the City’s website for public review. Those plans, along with three other plans prepared by the City’s districting consultant (NDC), were presented to Council on Dec. 2, 2014, and the map authors provided the thoughts and goals behind their plans to Council.

For more information, go to the City’s website at www.visalia.city.

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