Redrawing district boundaries proposal knocked down
The El Dorado County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday squashed a proposal to redraw district boundaries to even out the county’s population for the next election cycle.
The agenda item, introduced by Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Nielsen, would have adjusted the boundaries of the county’s five supervisorial districts, reflecting an increase in population in the western portion of the county.
Nielsen, who represents District 3, claims that the early redistricting would help avoid turmoil when the federal census comes around in 2000. But Second District Supervisor Ray Nutting, who represents Meyers and Tahoe Paradise, believes that the plan was just the latest attempt to wrest influence from the Tahoe area. In other words, Lake Tahoe could have lost one of its supervisors with the plan.
“It was an incredibly bad idea,” Nutting said. “The redistricting is going to happen anyway, with the 2000 census. Doing it now, with the large population growth on the west slope, could have meant Tahoe losing a seat on the board. I wouldn’t let that happen.”
Nutting lives in Placerville, and much of his district is located on the west slope. But his district also extends as far east as Meyers, and Nutting is a regular presence in Tahoe, and is one of South Shore’s strongest advocates.
Nielsen maintains that the proposed plan would have had minimum effect on Tahoe.
“My thinking was that we should get this done now, to avoid turmoil later,” said Nielsen. “It’s clear that there has been a major shift in county population over the past eight years, with a big increase in the western portion of the county.
“I thought it would be wise to get it done now, for three reasons. First, there are elections coming up in three districts where the incumbents will be leaving due to term limits. Also, it would allow us to get a jump on the 2000 census. I would also like to see us get away from the widespread practice of using county roads as boundaries. It doesn’t make sense to me to have one person live in one district, and his neighbor across the street living in another.”
But the majority of the board did not see it Nielsen’s way, voting 3-2 to kill the proposal. Nieslen and Fifth District Supervisor Dave Solaro voted for the proposal, while Nutting, First District Supervisor Sam Bradley and Fourth District Supervisor Penny Humphreys voted against it. The proposal would have authorized the county to study the issue.
The last time El Dorado County redrew its supervisorial boundaries was in 1991.
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