By Jim Stieringer, Member, Governing Board, Grossmont Union High School District
March 31, 2016 (San Diego’s East County)--Like my board colleagues I enthusiastically endorse the concept of the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and our unanimous vote to implement it in the Grossmont Union High School District.
I recall that our board members’ decision to implement “area” election precincts was engendered solely by a desire to implement CVRA and to obviate a threatened lawsuit if we failed to do so. I believe that no one was motivated by a desire to deny a colleague an opportunity to compete in the 2016 election. Further I am unaware of any direction to our demographers other than to create a minority district that gave consideration to all communities of interest. Each of the three proposed maps accomplished those goals.
I believe that none of us were aware of the unintended consequence of redistricting. However our ignorance of the outcome is not sufficient reason to reject the good faith effort to comply with CVRA or to ask our professional demographer to create unequal or non-contiguous districts simply to satisfy the political needs of a member.
Any allegation of “gerrymandering” is without merit. The term refers to Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry who, in 1812, rearranged voting districts in such a manner as to dilute the voting strength of his opposition by creating a grotesquely shaped district that resembled a salamander. A review of our proposed map indicates five compact areas of approximately equal population that reflect the communities we represent. A true gerrymander would exist only if the demographers were to draw a line separating the residences of Ms. Schreiber and Mr. Shield.
Although the southern part of the GUHSD, including Spring Valley and Lemon Grove are currently unrepresented, our GUHSD board is not provincial. As a board we have fairly and consistently represented the entire 500,000 East County residents. I am confident that we will continue to do so whether we remain an “at large” district or if we are elected by “area”.
My hope is that we will not suddenly become balkanized simply because we are elected "by area" rather than “at large”. I will personally consider only the best interests of the entire region regardless of any narrowly defined “area” that I may eventually represent.
It is unfortunate that my colleague has questioned your journalistic integrity. Be assured that I do not share those views. His comments may have been engendered by the mistaken impression that you are advocating the political needs of an incumbent. If so, I do not concur in his conclusion. Your reputation as a journalist is widely acknowledged and needs no defense.
I will be very happy to provide answers to any questions you may have concerning the issues being addressed by the GUHSD including CVRA, the Alpine High School, the Alpine School District’s petition for unification or the selection of a new Superintendent.
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