The last six members of the Santa Barbara County Independent Redistricting Commission were selected Monday by the initial five members after a last-minute substitution in the proposed slate to increase Latino representation.
Commissioners unanimously approved the final slate even though the vote to substitute Benjamin Olmedo, who did not receive a vote of recommendation in determining the initial slate, for Kevin Ilac, who had received four votes of recommendation.
Interim Chairman and 5th District Commissioner Glenn Morris cast the dissenting vote to substitute Olmedo for Ilac on the list of six members to bring the commission up to its full complement of 11.
The commission was in the process of moving to accept the first proposed slate of six new members when 3rd District Commissioner Norman Bradley raised a red flag over its makeup.
“I don’t see how we can proceed with just one Latino on the slate,” he said, noting the Hispanic and Latino population would be underrepresented and suggested the substitution. “I really feel like we need to make a fix here.”
Bradley said even if the substitution was approved, Latinos and Hispanics would still likely be underrepresented.
“I’m grateful that you pointed that out,” said 1st District Commissioner Lara Katz, adding she thought making the switch was the right thing to do.
The commissioners were trying to pick the six most qualified of 12 finalists who also would make the commission as a whole match as closely as possible the county’s demographics.
That would mean two from each supervisorial district and one member at-large; five or six men, five or six women; five Democrats, three Republicans, three with no party preference; one from each of eight age groups from 20 to 85 and older; five Hispanics, five Whites and either one Asian, one Black or one Native American.
But the initial five members are all White, only one is a woman, two are Democrats, one is a Republican and two have no party preference, and they represented only three of the eight age groups, which made the selection more difficult.
Commissioners said they couldn’t hit the exact demographic targets, but the full commission’s final makeup will be relatively close, with two from each supervisorial district and one at-large; six men and five women; six Democrats, one Republican and four with no party preference; representatives from five of the eight age groups; two Hispanics, six Whites, one Asian, one Black and one who declined to state ethnicity.
“Folks, I think we’ve tried to untie a Gordian knot, not to everyone’s satisfaction, but I think we have a highly qualified team to join this group of (Hollywood Squares),” Morris said after the slate was approved, referring to the format in which faces appear in Zoom meetings.
The newly appointed commissioners and their demographics are:
• Karen Twibell — 1st District, woman, Democrat, age 67, declined to state ethnicity
• Megan Turley — 2nd District, woman, Democrat, age 29, White
• James Hudley — 3rd District, man, Democrat, age 43, Black
• Benjamin Olmedo —3rd District, man, no party preference, age 42, Hispanic
• Lata Murti — 4th District, woman, no party preference, age 44, Asian
• Jannet Rios — 5th District, woman, Democrat, age 27, Hispanic
The initial five commissioners and their demographics are:
• Lara Katz — 1st District, woman, Democrat, age 67, White
• Vice Chairman William McClintock — 2nd District, man, no party preference, age 51, White
• Norman Bradley — 3rd District, man, no party preference, age 62, White
• Cary Gray— 4th District, man, Democrat, age 73, White
• Chairman Glenn Morris — 5th District, man, Republican, age 53, White
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