College board redistricting averted, idea tabled
Sun News Service
NEVADA COUNTY ” A possible loss of Nevada County leadership was averted when area members of the Sierra College Board of Trustees killed a discussion of redistricting Tuesday at the board’s meeting in Grass Valley.
Board members Nancy Palmer of Grass Valley and Aaron Klein of Colfax both opposed an idea brought by fellow board member Bill Martin, who wanted to look at redrawing trustee areas along population lines. Palmer and Klein argued such a change could hurt the seven-member board’s unique rural-urban nature.
They also said it could strip representation from the Tahoe-Truckee area.
“Two districts (Rocklin and Roseville) represent slightly more than half the population and the (rest represent) less than half,” said Martin, of Auburn. “Two seats representing less than half the population is not a fair distribution.”
Each trustee is linked to a geographic area, but is elected at large by all voters in the 3,000- square-mile district straddling four counties: Nevada, Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento.
That means trustees pay up to $7,000 in candidate statements in four counties for each election, said Trustee Elaine Reynoso of Placer County. She feared that could prevent others from running for office. Another option ” have trustees look for votes only in their individual areas ” could make them become competitive for district resource and create discord on the board, said Barbara Vineyard of Lincoln.
She recalled that when the board decided to build the Truckee campus and expand the Nevada County campus, “if we were territorial, I would have said, ‘No way until you place a campus in Lincoln.’ But that’s wrong, so let it stay the way it is.”
The election at-large system is “a significant barrier” to others running for office from the larger communities, college instructor Stan Spencer said. Martin agreed. “Roseville and Rocklin are essentially under-represented,” Martin said. “The shear numbers of potential candidates in Roseville and Rocklin make it harder to run from there. The issue is access to the electoral process.”
“I disagree,” Klein said, noting the at-large election is fair for each candidate in the sprawling electorate. It also allows smaller campuses at Nevada County and Truckee to be represented by a board member, he added.
Ultimately, the board voted to table the discussion until after the 2010 U.S. Census, when the college will get updated information on the district’s demographics and numbers.
Although he worried that redistricting could cut representation from his Tahoe-Truckee area, Trustee Dave Ferrari did not vote to table the matter, saying he wanted further discussion.
He was joined in his no vote by Martin and Reynoso. Voting to table the matter were Trustee Scott Leslie of Roseville, Klein, Palmer, Vineyard, and Student Trustee Zach Rutledge.
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