Challenger Lincoln Pickard, 49, is a real estate manager and chairman of the Otay Mesa/Nestor Planning Group. He has attended San Diego City College and Western Sierra Law School. He lives in Palm City.
Redistricting may not seem important to the average voter, but it can make or break his or her ability to be fairly represented.
The new boundaries of District 8 are a case in point, and the gerrymandering that created them may hamper the voters' effectiveness in dealing with the district's most pressing problems.
The Voting Rights Act lawsuit settlement last year required that City Council district boundaries be redrawn to make District 8 more than 50% Hispanic. But that laudable goal could have been accomplished without splitting the city's South Bay communities. The City Council did that. The Nestor area, which should have gone to District 8, went to District 2.
It may seem unimportant that the South Bay is divided. But the split gives the councilperson from District 2 a foothold in the South Bay, making it easier to propose an airport or other large project in the South Bay against the wishes of the District 8 councilperson. But if Bob Filner had fought harder to keep all of Nestor and still include his residence in the district, he might have had to accept a map even stranger looking--and politically more embarrassing--than the one District 8 ended up with.
Redistricting can get very complex when politics is allowed to dictate how the map will be drawn. Using a little common sense, a map can be produced that will provide equal representation, while maintaining the integrity of geographically distinct communities.
This is not just a District 8 problem. Three of the poorest districts in the city have the greatest populations while three of the wealthiest have the least populations. The three poorest districts--3, 4, and 8--have a higher concentration of minorities than the three wealthiest districts--1, 2, and 6.
Since the census tends to undercount minorities, we have received a double-barreled diminishment of representation on the City Council.
Our councilperson did not raise these issues during redistricting or at any other time. Instead, Filner worried about losing downtown, where much of his District 8 campaign financing came from. Of course, a vast majority of his campaign financing comes from outside the district, from outside San Diego and outside the state.
As long as citizens vote on the basis of how much money a candidate spends, the council will continue to be influenced by economic interests rather than strictly on the merits of the issues and for the benefit of the voters.