Opinion: What Redistricting Means to Me

FOR THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Amie Tokuhama Chapman / NatomasBuzz.com Photo

A decade ago, I was working as a substitute teacher for the Natomas Unified School District, raising my four children, then ages 16, 15, 9, and 8, planning art festivals, and thinking about opening a café at the South Natomas Community Center.

I learned about redistricting from city Councilmember Angelique Ashby. I was telling her how much I enjoyed working with her as the Sacramento City Council representative for South Natomas, and she told me redistricting was under way, and that she would not be my representative much longer. That was my first exposure to redistricting.

Over the last 10 years I have been posted at Ms. T’s Café watching the city of Sacramento and our Natomas neighborhood grow and change. I have been working with a team of neighbors, community leaders, and city personnel since 2017 on the development of the Natomas Garden & Arts Center. I am learning about public service missions and public advocacy. I am learning about funding opportunities for the arts and for traditionally underrepresented communities. And I am learning about public works projects and public voice.

All this personal development has highlighted the importance of the redistricting process. I am more acutely aware of the different levels of impact carried by the decisions being made in the next few months. Redistricting affects decisions made at the neighborhood level through city council seats. However, it also affects levels of representation and citizen involvement all the way up the chain of democracy, which in turn affect the health and stability of society in general. It is the responsibility of all citizens to cherish and protect their right to representation. Redistricting is a subtle but important part of the delicate dance of representative democracy, and it is important we all do our part.

I have been to several meetings of the Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission, including the orientation meeting for the commissioners, the meeting for my city council district, as well as for the surrounding council districts. I have also attended the Sacramento Region Redistricting Community Coalition meetings, the South Natomas Redistricting Ad-Hoc Committee meetings, and National Women’s Political Caucus’s redistricting overview in June. At these meetings I have learned about the history of redistricting, the tools available to the public to participate in the process, and most importantly, the timeline.

All the information I have gleaned over the last several months is readily available for review, and there are more meetings to attend. The most important thing to know about redistricting, as far as I am concerned, is the timeline. The 2020 census data will be available for final map drawing only weeks before the city’s Independent Redistricting Commission deadline to submit new city council boundaries.

Data from the 2010 census and information about recent and future development projects is available to review and draw “practice maps.” Maps for new city council district boundaries can be developed with this information in mind. I encourage my friends and peers to educate themselves and be prepared for the submission deadline. This is a chance in a decade to have input in this process.

Amie Tokuhama Chapman is president of the Natomas Garden & Arts Club board of directors. She has lived in South Natomas since 1994 and operated Mrs. T’s Cafe from 2011-2020 at the South Natomas Community Center.

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