September 13, 2021

Background from the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District Website:

On March 11, 2019, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution stating that the district will change the way that voters elect trustees for the first time since its founding in 1957.

Under the new system, instead of electing governing board members “at-large” with results decided by a districtwide vote, voters will elect one trustee from each of five smaller geographic areas, beginning in November 2022. The district’s 400,000+ residents will be divided into five “trustee areas” of roughly equal population size based on the 2020 Census. To run for election in a trustee area, a candidate must live in that area. The new system is intended to provide fair and equal representation for all district residents and will make it easier and less expensive to campaign for a seat on the board.

The decision to move to trustee area elections – also called “by-district” elections – was made in response to a demand letter from a lawyer representing a district resident, Sebastian Aguilar, which asserted that the Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s system of at-large elections may violate the California Voting Rights Act. It is one of many similar letters sent to local jurisdictions in recent years claiming that at-large elections abridge the voting rights of minority populations. These letters state that unless a change is made to by-district elections is made, a lawsuit will be filed. 

September 13, 2021 Board of Trustee meeting, Peter Landsberger, president, gave an overview of the process.

  • Each district would have to have roughly equal population.
  • Each district would have to include identified communities of interest.
  • Citizens can map communities of interest with a mapping tool which can be found on FHDA website.
  • All maps will be posted on the website for review and comment.
  • Redistricting Partners has been hired as consultants to assist the board in the districting process.
  • All four districting meetings will be public.
  • The trustees are committed to open, transparent, and public process.
  • The conversion to districts will be implemented over two election cycles. (sequencing)

Presentation by Redistricting Partners

  • California Voting Rights Act prohibits at-large elections in local government if there is racially polarized voting.
  • Traditional districting principles:
  • Relatively equal size of people, not citizens.
  • Contiguous, districts should not hop and jump.
  • Maintain “communities of interest”.
  • Follow local government lines.
  • Keep districts compact.

Schedule:

September 13 – hearing on community input.

October 4 – hearing on community input.

December 13 – hearing on draft maps.

January 10 – hearing on draft maps.

February 14 – hearing to approve final map and sequencing.

To input on communities of interest or submit a map go to:

https://www.fhda.edu/trustee-areas/

Speaker from the public: Ken Horowitz

    1. Does districting require voter approval or just the Board of Trustees? Since it will be voted on after January 1, 2022, a new law will apply and the district map can be approved by the board only.
    2. Can the districting process include an amendment to include term limits? No.

The next meeting will be on October 4.

Sue Graham, observer