Petaluma is in the final stages of its redistricting process. The Petaluma City Council chose a new district map by a six-to-one vote, the map will be finalized on April 4th. The new map is an amended version of a map submitted by a member of the public and splits Petaluma into six electoral districts.
It’s the first time Petaluma city council members will be elected by district, instead of by at-large, city-wide elections.
Chris Chaffee, from Redistricting Partners, Petaluma’s mapping consultant, said the amended map doesn’t change district populations.
"So there's this like zero populated island of 101 in F that, that's the amendment, is moving that island into D," Chaffee said. "And then using basically the Highway 101 as the divider."
The biggest question put before the council, Chaffee said, is what he calls election sequencing.
"Or when each of these districts come up for election next. And if we think about what the California voting rights act calls for, its purpose is to allow minority voters greater opportunity to elect their candidates of choice." Chaffee told the council.
First up in that election sequencing cycle will be three districts on Petaluma’s east side, marked A, B, and D on the new map. The three districts will elect council members in the upcoming mid-terms this November. Councilmember D'Lynda Fischer:
"So I'm, I'm willing to vote myself out of a seat tonight."
That’s council member D’Lynda Fischer. She said she wants the traditionally under-represented districts to vote first. Voters in Petaluma’s other districts will cast a ballot for their city council members in the 2024 election cycle.