Written by Lilibeth Gangas, Chair of the Oakland Redistricting Commission
Ever wonder how your congressional, state, and local district lines are drawn? How are local city council and school board seats designated? Redistricting is how these seats and representation are set. It is the process of drawing new political maps at the district level every 10 years, informed by the U.S. Census data.
Currently, every state in the nation is undergoing redistricting, including California, where there are several state, county, and community-led redistricting efforts. The goal of redistricting is to draw new districts accounting for population, while ensuring that maps preserve natural boundaries, comply with the law with respect to race, and are set without bias or discrimination, nor favoring one political party.
Participating in redistricting can decide which zip codes get prioritized for infrastructure, education, and other health services. These maps can have direct consequences of who has access to political power, government policies, and city laws. These maps will also be used by elected officials to propose new laws that can be used for or against certain groups.
The 2020 Census data showed a 300%+ increase in multi-racial identification with the largest growth occurring in the Latinx community. Furthermore, California’s Latinx population is the largest racial or ethnic group at 39.4% and this majority is also now reflected in California cities like Oakland at 28.7%.
Our voice in this process has never been more important.
The Only Latina and Leading Oakland’s First-ever Redistricting Efforts
For me, this work is personal. As the only Latina and Chair of Oakland’s Redistricting Commission, I have a huge responsibility in overseeing and ensuring this process is truly community-led.
For context, in November 2014, the Oakland electorate approved a ballot measure creating an independent redistricting commission that will re-draw the boundary lines for city council and Oakland Unified School Board of Directors districts. In August 2020, the 15 member (13 voting, 2 alternates) Oakland Redistricting Commission was announced and responsible for community outreach and approving the final boundary lines no later than December 31, 2021.
This is why the Oakland Redistricting Commission, based on public input, doubled its public meeting schedule, adopted additional workshops, and funded dedicated outreach consultants to urgently, and at scale, provide as many as possible ways to engage the public on this process.
The commission will continue accepting public comments to direct our work between now and the end of the year.
10 minutes can help shape the next 10 years. Here’s how:
If you have 10 minutes, and live in the city of Oakland, here’s how you, regardless of age or voting status, can protect your communities of interest by submitting your comments. Review maps and submit your feedback via:
2) Draw and submit your own map,
3) Oral comments through public hearings (by phone, by Zoom), or
4) Paper submission via in-person events.
If you want to have more two-way conversations, join Commissioner-led workshops and special community outreach with grassroots orgs like Oakland Rising and East Side Arts Alliance with your community and family.
- 2021 City of Oakland Redistricting Info One-Pager (English / Chinese / Spanish / Vietnamese)
- Redistricting Posters (dark / light)
- 2021 City of Oakland Media Toolkit
- Latino Community Foundation Toolkit
- California Citizens Redistricting Commission Information