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Press Release: Diverse Coalition Kicks Off Effort to Overturn Controversial Redistricting Plan

From Alejandro Soto-Vigil
Friday December 20, 2013 - 11:23:00 PM

A diverse coalition of Berkeley residents including neighborhood leaders, progressives and students will kick off a month-long signature drive this Saturday to stop the City Council’s controversial redistricting ordinance from going forward. 

On Tuesday, December 17th, a divided Berkeley City Council on a 6-3 vote adopted a redistricting plan that will shape the composition of the Council for the next ten years. 

Just like we have seen in Texas and throughout the country in which redistricting has been used for partisan political purposes, Berkeley’s City Council has adopted a controversial plan that not only divides neighborhoods but also gerrymanders out students and progressive voters who live north of the UC Berkeley campus. The Council rejected an alternative plan that (the United Student District Amendment) united students and kept neighborhoods together. 

The Council could have chosen the plan that was more fair and inclusive, but instead adopted a partisan plan explicitly designed to minimize progressive voices on the Council. The Council also ignored other redistricting plans that were more balanced including the plan submitted by the Berkeley Neighborhoods Council. 

Redistricting has been before the Council for the last three years. In early 2012 the Council voted to delay redistricting for one year, which disenfranchised over 4,000 people, keeping them from voting for the City Councilmember who would ultimately represent them. In November 2012 Berkeley voters approved changes to the Charter around redistricting which gave Council total flexibility to draw new boundaries. Prior to Measure R, the Council could only make minor adjustments to pre-existing boundaries that were adopted by voters in 1986. Unfortunately the Council has abused this new power, creating an unfair map. 

Proponents of the redistricting referendum have 30 days to gather 5,275 signatures to stop the ordinance from going into effect. If we are successful the Council will have to reconsider the ordinance or put it on the ballot. The Berkeley Referendum Coalition is working over this holiday season to gather signatures so that the City Council can reconsider its decision and do the right thing - come up with a fair and inclusive plan that unites neighborhoods, students and the entire community. 

WHAT: Press Conference to Kick-Off Berkeley Redistricting Referendum 

WHO: Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, and neighborhood leaders, progressive activists and students 

WHEN: Saturday, December 21, 2013, 11:00 AM 

WHERE: Outside Mudrakers Cafe, 2801 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley