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Redistricting Based On Census Data May Give Latinos In Marin County More Political Clout

SAN RAFAEL (KPIX) - After each new census, every county in California is obligated by law to re-evaluate its political districts. The Board of Supervisors just approved the new boundaries in Marin and it may result in more political clout for Latinos in the county.

The story begins at San Quentin Prison. The state recently decided that inmates living there should be considered residents of the place they last lived, not San Rafael. So the city's population dropped by several thousand people.

"And that really made District 4 under-represented," said Marin Assistant County Administrator, Dan Eilerman. "So, that's where we really focused, and District 4 includes the Canal Area."

Those redrawing the district boundaries had to shift residents from other districts, but the law puts a priority on so-called "communities of interest."

"...and determine who shares things like language, economic indicators, do they live-in multi-family housing," said Eilerman.

And that pointed directly to the Canal District. So, District 4 will now include the Latino-dominant neighborhoods along Lincoln Avenue and part of Brett Harte and Cal Park.

Omar Carrera, CEO of the Canal Alliance, lobbied hard for the change.

"So that's the major accomplishment," he said, "that now this community is going to be able to speak with a louder voice to their elected official."

Carrera said the new district boundaries will make it easier to advocate for his community with one supervisor, rather than three.

"It means we have a solid block of residents to represent in District 4," said Supervisor Dennis Rodoni .

Supervisor Rodoni represents District 4 and said he thinks he will speak with greater authority before the board on issues affecting Latinos.

"And now, because of that, I'm representing the majority of the Hispanic and LatinX community in Marin," Rodoni said.

But more than anything, those who pushed for the change hope it will empower Latino residents to feel like they're part of the system and not be afraid to raise their voices across the political landscape.

"Nobody's going to thrive in Marin County unless the Latino community is also thriving," said Carrera. "And I think that is the message that we want to send across all levels, including the political one."

The new boundaries were approved by the Board of Supervisors on December 14 and the new districts took effect immediately.

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