Archived: Better Government Starts With You: You Have Until Feb 16 To Act

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No one knows your community better than you and your neighbors. You know what works, what needs fixing, and what’s beyond repair.
These days, there’s an awful lot that needs fixing, especially when it comes to California and its government. So who we elect to lead our state is important, because their decisions will affect us all – how well our schools are funded, whether our roads and highways are in good repair and how much we pay in taxes.

That means we have to make careful choices on Election Day. But it also means something more.

Because long before anyone casts a ballot, our state draws lines. It’s called redistricting – deciding which neighborhoods and communities vote together when choosing a state Senator or Assembly member.

Where those district lines are drawn can make a big difference. Communities that stand together have more clout and get more attention. Neighborhoods divided among several representatives often get short-changed.

These lines are changed once each decade after the Census. So who draws the lines – and how they do the job – really matters.
That work is about to begin. And this time, it will be done by people just like you.

It’s called the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission. It’s being created by the State Auditor’s Office, which has set up a website to take applications from the public at www.WeDrawtheLines.ca.gov.

You can be part of it – if you apply.

This is serious, important work … and it won’t be easy. It will take thoughtful choices about which communities belong together within a district – so that every voter’s rights are protected, and every community has an equal opportunity to be heard.

That’s real power – and a real opportunity to get involved and make a difference in California’s future.

It’s easy to apply – and the time is now. Applications are being accepted on-line until February 16th. You can find out more, and file an application at www.WeDrawtheLines.ca.gov.

Commission members will be paid $300 a day for their work.

Think it over. Like most people, you’ve probably already got a lot on your plate. But the best way to be sure your community’s interests are taken into account is to have a seat at the table when decisions are being made.

Besides, if we’re really going to change California for the better – and make it work for every community – it’s going to take all of us.
And all around the state, people are getting involved, whether in their own communities or in statewide organizations like California Forward, a non-partisan government reform group working with NALEO (the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) to help spread the word about this new commission.

Why? Because our democracy only works when everyone gets involved and everyone has a say.

Cruz Reynoso is a former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court and serves on the Leadership Council of the non-partisan government reform organization California Forward. The group’s website is CAforward.org

Arturo Vargas is executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. The group’s website is NALEO.org

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