OROVILLE — After a tense two weeks of disagreements, the Butte County Board of Supervisors will be meeting at 1 p.m. Monday to select its new district map.
The meeting will be held at the board’s chambers located at 25 County Center Drive Suite 205.
Every 10 years, California local governments redraw their districts based on census data. Butte County hired an outside firm called Redistricting Partners to the tune of $80,000 to come up with a series of maps for the board to choose from.
In the early stages of the process, county residents were invited to draw their own maps using the design tool District. These designs were uploaded for both the board and the consultants to view in order to get an understanding of what residents might want going into the final designs.
Two maps will be presented at the Monday meeting. One was created by Redistricting Partners and the other was created by Josh Cook, a Republican Strategist and Chief of Staff for California Senator Brian Dahle. The latter was brought forth in a previous meeting by Supervisor Doug Teeter and was backed by Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue and Chairman Bill Connelly though it raised concerns by Supervisors Tami Ritter and Debra Lucero.
An early copy of the presentation planned by Redistricting Partners stated that the map made by Cook likely wouldn’t hold up against the Fair Maps Act.
Connelly issued a statement expressing his frustrations with Redistricting Partners.
“From my perspective, the whole process is tainted by the total unprofessional actions of the consultants that were hired,” Connelly said. “They have ignored any suggestions made by myself and indeed even our staff. They continually are quick to divide rural area from adjacent cities and require a supervisor to drive out of district to reach constituents.”
Connelly went on to say he believes the consultant firm is making decisions based on pleas for neighborhoods in Chico to be held together.
One of the matters complicating the process is that the Camp Fire dispersed much of District 5’s population into other areas.
“The point is with the loss of so many people in District 5 it is rational that Chico and Oroville need to provide a population to several districts. In fact, for the last ten years, Chico has been divided into four districts,” Connelly said. “The City of Oroville into two. The need for more than one supervisor providing services to the rural areas is way more important than giving Citizens within an urban area a second voice above their local City Councils.”
On Wednesday, Ritter and Lucero came forward accusing the rest of the board of gerrymandering. Ritter said she had no problem dividing Chico into three districts to allow for Teeter to move in but didn’t believe it should be divided into four. She went on to say that the map presented by Teeter was problematic due to where it came from and how it divides the county.
“I have absolutely no problem with the city of Chico being divided into three representatives that have some part of the urban area,” Ritter said. “I believe that it’s necessary because of the devastation in Paradise.”
A public hearing will be held at the meeting Monday and members of the public are invited by the county to come and speak.