Lawsuit filed to stop SLO County redistricting plan
October 21, 2011
By KAREN VELIE
The new redistricting lines for San Luis Obispo County were one day away from going into effect when a lawsuit was filed challenging the proposed boundaries.
William Pelfrey, a resident of Templeton, said he filed the suit because he believes the SLO County Board of Supervisors failed to follow government code and instead drew supervisory boundaries in an attempt to improve several board members chances at reelection.
For Pelfrey, it’s about keeping communities together and he believes the supervisors’ plans will jeopardize Templeton’s voting strength and representation.
“I am doing this for the people of Templeton who came to me because they don’t think what the supervisors did was right,” Pelfrey said. “At the board meetings, there were a lot of people from San Luis Obispo who asked why they had so many supervisors.
“I am doing this for the people of San Luis Obispo and Templeton.”
Every 10 years, following the U.S. Census, the county redraws the supervisory boundaries reportedly seeking to provide as equal a population as possible and working to keep populations sharing common social and economic interests together.
In the lawsuit filed on Wednesday in district court, Pelfrey is suing the SLO County Board of Supervisors, claiming the board failed to follow its own criteria and selected boundaries for political gain.
Supervisors Adam Hill, Frank Mecham and Jim Patterson are up for reelection in 2012.
At a Sept. 20 board meeting, supervisor Bruce Gibson, Hill and Patterson voted in favor of the plan that breaks the Templeton school district into two supervisory districts and the city of San Luis Obispo into three districts. Both supervisors Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira said that they needed to listen to the citizens of Templeton and voted against the controversial redistricting plan.
In his lawsuit, Pelfrey contends that Patterson’s bid to keep a chunk of San Luis Obispo in his primarily North County district is an attempt to help him win next year’s election.
Currently, the more liberal supervisors, Patterson, Hill and Gibson, have a majority vote on the board. North County is historically more conservative than the city of San Luis Obispo.
“Retaining a portion of the city of San Luis Obispo would likely greatly benefit Mr. Patterson in the upcoming elections, given the past voting histories of voters in that area,’ says the lawsuit filed by Santa Margarita attorney Sophia Trader.
If Pelfrey’s suit is successful, the boundaries will be reset by either the board or a redistricting commission so that “it compiles with the primary and secondary Election Code criteria,” with a local judge staying involved until the issue is settled. In addition, Pelfrey is seeking reimbursement for his attorney’s fees and court costs.