Community members have until Thursday at midnight, to weigh in on which district Fullerton College will reside in. The redistricting could impact Fullerton College which presently resides within the same district as Cal State, Fullerton.

The front of Fullerton City Hall. Constructed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style and completed in 1942. City hall is located at 237 W. Commonwealth Ave.

The front of Fullerton City Hall. Constructed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style and completed in 1942. City hall is located at 237 W. Commonwealth Ave. Photo credit: Dustin Malek

Fullerton is promoting this as a once in a decade chance to be involved in the redistricting process, and it truly is. The goal is to ensure fair representation for all Fullerton residents.

The workshop was hosted by Jennifer Nentwig, the director of Tripepi Smith. A company that the city of Fullerton hired to support the process. Also assisting was Dr. Justin Levitt from the National Demographics Corporation. Fullerton has also contracted the NDC to provide redistricting expertise and assistance.

Two reasons why redistricting is happening now

The first is that in 2016 Fullerton transitioned from an at-large city council election to district elections. Meaning the city was broken up into districts and council members had to be elected by voters in the district in which the candidate resides.

City of Fullerton 2020 census data, broken down by each of the five voting districts.

City of Fullerton 2020 census data, broken down by each of the five voting districts. Photo credit: City of Fullerton

The second has to do with population deviation from district to district. Just because there is a census does not mean districts must be redrawn; however, per a Supreme Court mandate, there cannot be greater than a 10% population deviation between the most and least populated districts within the city. Fullerton currently has a 16% deviation. Therefore, by law, redistricting must occur.

Fullerton residents can design and submit their redistricting maps here.

Two of the most discussed issues during the workshop were the downtown area. Currently, all five districts have some portion of downtown Fullerton within their borders. However, some residents feel that the downtown area should be its own district.

The other topic that garnered much discussion is whether or not Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton should remain in the same district. Some see Fullerton College as naturally fitting into the downtown area, while others believe the students’ interests at both schools should be part of the same district.

The current city of Fullerton voting districts. These districts were created in 2016 and took effect in 2017. Fullerton is currently determining new voting districts based on 2020 census data.

The current city of Fullerton voting districts. These districts were created in 2016 and took effect in 2017. Fullerton is currently determining new voting districts based on 2020 census data. Photo credit: City of Fullerton

While gerrymandering has been a media buzzword in recent years, residents of Fullerton should know that the California Fair Maps Act requires districts to meet specific criteria. Chief among those criteria is that the whole of the district can be walked without passing through another district. It is also prohibited to favor or discriminate against a political party. Perhaps the easiest way to think about redistricting is that each district must make sense and have a similar number of citizens.

Making sense of districts can mean different things to different people, though. That’s why the city of Fullerton is holding these workshops. The workshop is available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

The third and final workshop will be held on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. all maps must be submitted by midnight of that night. It’s an excellent chance for anyone with even a passing interest to see local government at work.

What’s next?

The Redistricting Advisory Commission will make their final recommendations, and those recommendations will go to the City Council. Then, the final map must be submitted by April 17. The new districts will take effect over the next two election cycles.

Author profile

Dustin Malek (He/Him) is a Journalism major residing in Fullerton, Ca. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and riding his bike around town.