A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute

With Large Population Groups Underrepresented In Applicant Pool, Greenlining Institute Urges Push for Diversity

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-898-2053

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA — With an applicant pool for the Citizens Redistricting Commission that is nowhere near representing California’s diverse population, the Applicant Review Panel must commit itself to ensuring that the final body truly represents all Californians, officials of The Greenlining Institute said today. The ARP will meet Friday morning to discuss the applicant review process and the “qualities and characteristics” that members would like to see in panelists.

“In a state whose population is 58 percent people of color, an applicant pool that’s 71 percent white is a real problem,” said Greenlining Institute executive director Orson Aguilar. “The redistricting commission can play a huge role in restoring Californians’ faith in their government, but only if it represents all of California. The commission needs to look like California, and that will only happen if the Applicant Review Panel makes it a priority.”

Of the more than 4,300 applicants who had completed the extensive secondary application process (which included a written essay and letters of recommendation) as of Friday, 71 percent are white and 67 percent are male.  Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islanders are particularly underrepresented, constituting nine and five percent of the completed applications, respectively. California’s population is 36.6 percent Latino and 12.5 percent Asian/Pacific Islander. Updated statistics on commission applicants.

While most observers credit the State Auditor’s office, charged with overseeing the process, with doing a good, fair job, the arduous application process and unknown but possibly substantial time commitment that will be required of commissioners may have discouraged some applicants, especially working people and those with families. The redistricting commission, created by Proposition 11, will draw new state legislative districts and is set to begin meeting in 2011. Prop. 11’s text declared that the selection process was designed to make the commission “reasonably representative of this state’s diversity.”

“Californians today are very cynical about state government, and a commission that is predominantly white, male, older, and affluent will not dispel that cynicism,” said Los Angeles Ethics Commissioner Paul Turner. “The redistricting commission represents an important step forward for our state, but we have to get it right.”