Gathering political allies as redistricting looms in SLO County

July 26, 2021

Ellen Beraud

By KAREN VELIE

As San Luis Obispo County prepares to draw new supervisorial district boundaries, leaders in the SLO County Democratic Party are covertly asking allies to promote redistricting plans that appear to support their candidates.

Several days before a July 20 Board of Supervisors meeting that included a discussion on redistricting, Democratic Party insiders shared a list of 93 contacts they planned to ask to either call or write the county in support of their group’s redistricting plans, according to an email from Ellen Beraud, the vice-chair of the SLO Democratic Party. The email notes that either “Tom” or “Ellen” had spoken to SLO City Mayor Heidi Harmon, Atascadero Councilwoman Susan Funk, Michael Latner and John Alan Connerly regarding speaking at the supervisor meeting, which they all did.

“I am here to encourage you to conduct an open and transparent redistricting process in which all communications are documented,” Harmon told the board. “The city of San Luis Obispo is a countywide community of interest, and as such, it is in the city’s interest to maintain three county supervisorial districts in its boundaries.”

Speakers from the group supported dividing the city of SLO into three supervisor districts: District 2, District 3 and District 5. Including a slice of the largely Democratic city of San Luis Obispo in District 5 makes it more likely a Democrat could win the North County seat.

In addition, the group supported keeping Oceano in District 4. Oceano has a large number of registered Democrats, and removing the community from District 4 would likely support Republican Lynn Compton over her competitor Jimmy Paulding, a Democrat.

However, state law does not permit the redrawing of district boundaries, which is required every 10 years, for political purposes.

“The board shall not adopt supervisorial district boundaries for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against a political party,” according to Assembly Bill 849.

In 2019, the California Legislature amended regulations for redistricting. First, districts need to be contiguous and have similar population numbers. Second, neighborhoods and communities of interest should be in the same district. Third, the division of cities should be avoided.

Beraud’s list includes CAPSLO — a nonprofit that receives funding from the county, the SLO Chamber of Commerce, Bend the Arc SLO Coalition, the Bike Coalition of SLO and the League of Women Voters.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson

Following the July 20 Board of Supervisors meeting, the group shared several emails discussing the need to promote a definition for communities of interest and critiquing those who called in on their behalf.

“Charles Varni presented solid reasons for keeping Oceano/Nipomo/AG in one district, as did folks who followed him,”  Ellen Boykin wrote. “The translation of Rita’s comments was kind of botched.”

During the July 20 meeting, several public speakers and Supervisor Bruce Gibson demanded openness and transparency in communications regarding redistricting.

“The openness and transparency of this is of concern to a lot of folks that I’ve talked to,” Gibson said. “I just wanted to confirm that any communication from anyone to the staff that’s working on redistricting or any communication from anyone to the consultant through whatever interface, is a publicly disclosable document.”

In Beraud’s July 19 email, she seeks to keep their supporter list and plans for redistricting private.

“This is a valuable, confidential document – so please don’t share outside of this group,” Beraud wrote.


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shishkabob141

Cheat, cheat, and cheat some more.

Just because Adam’s dead doesn’t mean the game shouldn’t continue.


IDBOUND

Cal Poly students should not be included, most are visitors …unless they were residents of the district for at least 181 days prior to their very first day of school of their first year and they can prove they are residents of California and paying California taxes plus their home state or home countries taxes USA has agreements with most countries on dual taxes …those same students are voting in their original actual home possibly by mail in ballot …Double voting ?? Otherwise anybody can claim they are a student at Cal Poly


kayaknut

Easy fix, make most of Cal Poly students into one district and the city of San Luis Obispo divided by a max 2 districts.


JordanJ

The issue is there can only be five districts as close to evenly split as possible. SLO and Cal Poly can be one district. I can’t think of another community that is more closely aligned regarding support of bike lanes, BLM, community choice energy and more.


To keep SLO together, which is now a top priority according to the state, would require changing other district boundaries, but it is doable.


Dawn Ortiz-Legg lives in SLO, so make SLO and Cal Poly District 3.


kayaknut

Just don’t pull another swindle like they did for Katcho and draw a district around where he lived so he could stay in office, wrong in so many ways.


obispan

You’re making a good point and touching on a lot of history. Back in the day SLO was the big dog at 30,000 and the rest of the county relatively less sparsely populated than today. SLO was divided between 3 districts so that it could not be a “lock” for the left other than District 2. 3 and 5 remaining competitive, 1 and 4 rock-ribbed conservative . Now the thinking is give SLO its own district and remove the leftist influence on others. And to think that the likes of Kurt Kupper, Richard Kresja, Shirley Bianchi and Keith Gurney were the boogeymen of the left back then. They were Walter Mondale. Harmon, Gibson, Ortiz-Legg (the ghost of Adam Hill), et al are Josef Stalin.


derasmus

Appears to be consistent with a pattern at all levels of government, court packing, dumping the filibuster, DC and Puerto Rico Statehood, a White House that admitted its private coordination with social media in an effort to thwart “misinformation “….manipulation of public health data …


It’s all about power and control and money


Just my observation.


nunsense

This just in – stop the presses! A political party tries to use a process to advantage them! Wow – who didn’t see that coming? Maybe the other side is better at keeping things sub rosa.


Cindy

Manipulating the boundaries of districts, known a gerrymandering, is illegal and unethical. Attempting to paint Atascadero and the north side of SLO as having more in common than all of SLO is ludicrous. Susan Funk made a fool of herself at the board meeting claiming Atascadero is tied economically to parts of SLO, more than both sides of SLO, which share tax revenue, water service and fire and police protection.


They did not try to use process to serve their community, they attempted to gerrymander for political power.


And to argue about transparency when you are anything but transparent, is hypocritical and manipulative. I for one am for honesty and integrity. And to blow this off as both sides did it, show us where.


slo-to-load

Yep gerrymandering is a huge scam that both political parties do whenever possible to keep their grip on power. What we really need to do is limit the power of both parties and encourage independent thinking unaffiliated candidates versus mindless sheep that blindly follow the party line of whatever side they sold their soul to.


obispan

You’re right. Ludicrous. What happened to the principles of “not dividing communities? SLO being a “countywide community of interest” is pure crap other than the fact that I consider all communities in SLO to be of countywide interest. It’s all about Districts 2, 3, and 5. SLO, one district, undivided, 54,000 people, in the spirit of state law. That’s the City in its entirety, Cal Poly, and some areas around the airport if needed to even up the numbers, though I think SLO City plus Cal Poly is pretty damn close.


Downtown Bob

Ellen just wants fair and equitable treatment for all, a few bent rules is the price we pay for an honest government.


kayaknut

Bending rules is something Ellen knows how to do very well, lots of practice from her at ASH.


obispan

Hey DT Bob, if you haven’t noticed CCN readers are very poor at picking up satire. If they’d picked on it your -39 would be +39.


Downtown Bob

satire is hard to discern sometimes, I mean there are plenty who realistically agree with what I wrote being sarcastic.