The committee kept four halves of maps for City Council to piece together
The discussion will move to the council later this month
Residents said they prize neighborhood representation over economic drivers
The committee tasked with recommending maps for districts in Merced’s local elections decided on Tuesday to keep pieces of each of the three remaining maps to recommend to the City Council.
The Independent Districting Advisory Committee unanimously agreed to recommend the southern half of a map dubbed “Palma 1” and the northern half of “Belluomini 2.” The committee also recommended map “NDC C,” which could be used as a whole or chopped in half.
With four individual halves, the Merced City Council will have the option to mix and match any two halves to complete the map.
The maps are named after the person who submitted them. Each map uses the Santa Fe Railroad to split the city in half as was required by the city’s agreement with Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Los Angeles-based nonprofit that got the districts ball rolling last year.
“I have to admit, I have butterflies in my stomach because this is such a milestone for the city of Merced,” committee member See Lee said before the vote.
The committee also discussed smaller changes to individual maps to try to keep neighborhoods intact.
I HAVE TO ADMIT, I HAVE BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH BECAUSE THIS IS SUCH A MILESTONE FOR THE CITY OF MERCED.
See Lee, Independent Districting Advisory Committee member, on the importance of the vote
Much of the debate from residents and committee members Tuesday focused on the districts in south Merced, and whether they should be grouped by neighborhoods or by businesses.
Isai Palma, 25, of Merced, who drew one of the maps with the help of two other people, said the council should pick a map that accounts for neighborhoods before businesses or economic drivers.
He argued that would lead to a more accurate representation for the neighborhoods. His map, “Palma 1,” had the most outspoken support at the meeting, when more than a dozen people threw their support behind it.
That map would group central south Merced into one district, but leaves it without any major economic driver. The committee questioned whether that would make the district weak, because it might give its representative little political pull on the council.
Merced resident Necola Adams, 52, echoed that concern. “If you want those neighborhoods to come up, if you want violence to go down, you need industry,” she said.
But, supporters continued to argue that districts that support neighborhoods trump districts that try to balance economic drivers.
THIS OPPORTUNITY IS KIND OF A JUMP-START TO GET PEOPLE INVOLVED.