Campbell (R-Irvine) is a California State Senator representing
the 35th District
in Orange County. He represents the cities of Newport
Laguna Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach
and Cypress. He can be reached through his Senate website
and through the website
for his California Senate campaign. [go to Campbell index]
Fair redistricting is necessary...
[John Campbell] 3/3/05
in Sacramento, Democratic lawmakers will continue to push two
wildly unpopular pieces of legislation that would give driver’s
licenses to illegal aliens and create gay marriage. They will
do so in defiance
of the clear will of the people in both instances. And they will do this
without fear of losing their seats. Why? Because the districts in which
they will all run for re-election have been carefully drawn to ensure that
there is a comfortable margin of registered Democrats to ensure their success
in spite of unpopular positions.
they are not accountable to the broad electorate. Their accountability
instead lies with unions and trial lawyers and other special
interests that control the Democratic power structure in this
How did these
districts get this way in the first place? According to the
state constitution, every 10 years, the Legislature draws and
votes on districts for itself, members of Congress and the
Board of Equalization. And therein lies the problem. We legislators
get to decide the very districts in which we will run. That
is a classic conflict of interest. Our personal concerns about
re-election or party interests can prevail over fairness and
balance. It would be like allowing school kids to grade their
own homework. It’s just a bad system. I actually voted
for the current redistricting because the alternatives we had
at the time were even more skewed than what we ended up with.
It was the lesser of “evils.” But the point is
that all the plans were “evil.”
the balance of power in the state Legislature has changed hands
only once since the 1950s. That was four years after the districts
were drawn by a court because Gov. Wilson would not agree to
sign the Legislature’s gerrymander in 1990. Only then
were they really fair.
by Gov. Schwarzenegger in his State of the State address, it’s
time to throw this system out. It’s time to eliminate
the conflicts of interest and make legislators more accountable.
There are several good ideas out there for a replacement system,
but most involve having a panel of retired judges draw the
be required to keep cities and county lines intact whenever
possible. They could fit two Assembly districts neatly inside
each Senate district. They could consider communities of interest
and respect mountain ranges, rivers and other natural boundaries.
And they would absolutely not take into account voters’ party
registration or the desires or locations of any legislators.
Now, I write
you this as a state Senator in one of the most Republican districts
in the state. In a redistricting, who knows where my district
might be drawn. Who knows which votes I might need to earn
and what opponent I might draw? But it is just that uncertainty
that will keep me accountable to a broader population. The
integrity, transparency and accountability of our system of
government are way more important than the election or re-election
of any one person.
the governor has called for a special session to address this
problem, you will begin to hear much discussion over the next
year. The opposition has no real substantive reason to keep
the current system except to preserve their own power base.
Instead, they will try to scare you by overcomplicating the
issue and casting doubt on the details of any new proposals.
actually rather simple. I shouldn’t draw my own district.
Someone who is impartial and unbiased should do it, with fairness
in mind. That’s it. But it will require a change to the
Constitution to do it. And that means the people must vote
for it. So you have the power to fix it. CRO