We write to support the current iteration of our Congressional district and to express our profound disappointment in the City of Santa Clarita’s map submitted two days ago. Aside from the fact that the city council ignored the unacceptable population percentage deviation that would result from such a map, the city council’s motivations appear to be political and not grounded in any of the constitutional factors that are exclusively relied upon when determining district boundaries.
Our local, grassroots organization was founded in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and in response to the actions and inactions of our local government. Unfortunately, historically speaking, our local government has played a substantial role in creating the need for racial justice in our community.
To this day, we are one of the few cities in California in which the city council continues to use at-large voting rather than district-based voting. Our city council continues to defy the California Voting Rights Act by keeping our city council seats at-large, thereby depriving communities of color from serving on our city council.
Racial discrimination – and complicit leaders in our community – are not new to us. By and large, our city council has let us down when it comes to racial justice. In 2010, a City Councilman named Bob Kellar screamed at an event that he was a “proud racist.” For the next decade, our city council expended its energy defending the councilman rather than denouncing his reprehensible behavior or calling for his resignation. In 2020, 10 years later and during the apex of the Black Lives Matter movement, our community again called for his resignation. He was still on our city council. And once again, in 2020, our entire city council stood by the “proud racist” city councilman rather than standing by us.
That very city council is now demanding that you, the commission, inexplicably lump us into the same congressional district as Simi Valley. In truth, we are largely unfamiliar with Simi Valley, a city that sits across a mountain range in Ventura County. We know very little about it, other than the jury’s infamous decision to let the officers who mercilessly beat Rodney King go free after being captured on video. There is certainly nothing uniquely shared by Simi Valley and Santa Clarita. In public comments claiming that we share interests with Simi Valley, all we have heard are interests shared by most cities throughout California (e.g. threat of wildfires).
We believe that there are likely political forces putting pressure on our local government and members of the public. Unfortunately for them, their political motivations are obvious. Each time they demand that Simi Valley be included in our congressional district, they fail to offer valid reasons that are actually grounded in our Constitution. They fail to identify any real, uniquely shared communities of interest because there are none. It is also obviously politically motivated because Simi Valley is not geographically contiguous, nor is it within the same county as the rest of the district. It is awkwardly forced into an otherwise contiguous district within Los Angeles County.
We ask that you ignore the politically motivated demands from our city council and keep our current visualization. We thank you for your time and dedication to protecting our Constitution, and we thank you for enforcing, protecting, and respecting the Voting Rights Act.
The NAACP Santa Clarita Executive Board
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the author(s) do NOT reflect those of The Proclaimer or Radio Free Santa Clarita, its board and supporters.