Retired Judges To Be Selected Tonight for Advisory Committee On Drawing Council Districts

When the City of Anaheim and the ACLU and plaintiffs Jose F. Moreno et al agreed to settle the litigation and place by-district council elections on the November 2014 ballot, part of the agreement stated that an Advisory Committee of retired judges would assist in the drawing of council districts if the voters approved going in that direction.

Measure L passed, and now the city is implementing the transition from electing the city council at-large to doing it on a by-district basis. The agreement originally called for an Advisory Committee of retired judges who live in Anaheim. It turned out there was only one, and so the plaintiffs agreed to widen the pool of retired Superior Court judges to any who live in Orange County.

Fourteen judges applied to serve on the committee, which will have five members:

Judge James Alfano (resident of Placentia)
Judge David Brickner (resident of Tustin)
Judge Francisco Briseno (resident of Irvine)
Judge Jonathan Cannon (resident of Orange and former Mayor of Garden Grove)
Judge Francisco Firmat (resident of San Juan Capistrano, former resident of Anaheim)
Judge James Gray (resident of Newport Beach)
Judge James Jackman (resident of Orange and former Orange councilman)
Judge Michael Naughton (resident of Mission Viejo)
Judge Luis Rodriguez (resident of San Juan Capistrano)
Judge Steven Sundvold (resident of Placentia, former resident of Anaheim)
Judge Thomas Thrasher (resident of Villa Park)
Justice Jack Trotter (resident of Santa Ana)
Justice Edward Wallin (resident of Anaheim)
Justice Nancy Wieben Stock (resident of Fullerton)

Since retired Justice Edward Wallin is the only one who lives in Anaheim, he is automatically selected.

The remaining thirteen names will be placed in a hat, and City Clerk Linda Andal will pull four. Those will be the other four committee members. In case vacancies occur for whatever reason:

“To limit delay in having to return to the City Council to conduct further random draws to fill an unanticipated vacancy, the Resolution also names two “replacements.” The replacements will be selected by random draw from the remaining applicants and would serve, in the order drawn, only if a vacancy occurs and such persons remain interested in serving on the Committee.”

The staff report provides an update on how the districting process will proceed:

The Committee is charged with assisting in the development of district maps to recommend for
adoption by the City Council for use commencing with the 2016 City Council elections and such other ancillary matters as the City Council may direct. The Committee is required to take input from the public. Additionally, if requested by a Councilmember or the City Council during the advisory process, the Committee must consider specific matters germane to the districting process. Such matters may include, but are not limited to, focusing on specific lawful districting criteria (for instance certain geographic or man-made boundaries), other communities of interest (for instance school attendance boundaries, proximity to community services, etc.) and, if requested, a transition plan from at-large to district elections.

As previously discussed at the January 6th workshop, a number of legal requirements relate to the creation of district maps and the districting/re-districting process. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires that districts be nearly equal in population. Elections Code section 21620 states that in establishing district boundaries, such boundaries must comply with the all applicable provisions of the Federal Voting Rights Act (42 U.S.C.§§ 1973 et seq.) and the City may also consider other criteria including:

• Topography;
• Geography;
• Cohesiveness, contiguity, integrity, and compactness of territory; and
• Communities of interest of the districts.

The resolution makes it clear that the City Council will ultimately decide what maps to approve.

In an effort to ensure the community has opportunities to provide feedback, the Committee is expected to hold an average of two meetings a month, and City staff is prepared to educate the community of these efforts. It is likely that Committee meetings may be held in various locations of the City. The resolution requires that the Committee provide its recommendations to the City Council no later than October 6, 2015. This deadline is consistent with prior Council direction as to the timing of the districting process and permits the City Council to begin considering the committee’s recommendations in October.

City staff from the City Clerk’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office and a demographer will assist the Committee and community with the districting process.

Required public notices and agenda (but not agenda material) of the Committee will be translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese to facilitate community involvement. Translation services will be available at Committee meetings.

There’s no reason (in my opinion) this process can;t be completed well before October. Indeed, the sooner the better so that individuals who are thinking about running for city council can see which district they live in and decide whether or not to go for it.

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