Every 10 years, after the national census has been completed, Congressional, State Senate, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization districts are readjusted according to the population numbers in the current census. The Voters FIRST Act gave this power to California citizens. Changing the boundary lines of districts is a highly political activity. Borders can be adjusted so that a district leans much more heavily toward one party or the other.
The California Redistricting Commission is made up of 14 citizens: five Democrats, five Republicans and four unaffiliated voters. They will draw the new district lines.
The first eight members of the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission were randomly selected by July 2, 2020 from a list of remaining applicants delivered by the Legislature on June 26, 2020. The first eight members chose the final six members from the applicants that remained in the applicant pool on August 7, 2020.
The United States Census was completed in 2020. The Redistricting Committee is currently working on drawing up new districts. Due to a loss in population, California has lost one congressional seat. That means that districts need to be bigger in order for all voters to have a congressional representative.
From September 30 to October 31, 2021 Census Data is expected to the Commission.
October – December 2021 - Public Input Meetings and Line Drawing Sessions.
November – December 2021 - Draft District Maps will be released.
December 2021 – January 2022 - Public Input Meetings and Line Drawing Sessions.
December 2021 – February 2022 -District Maps Released
December 2021 - February 2022 - Final District Maps to the Secretary of State.
Dates will be updated on https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting_in_California_after_the_2020_census once the census data are received and the Commission adopts the final schedule.
1. Isra Ahmad, San Jose, CA.
2. Linda Akutagawa, Huntington Beach, CA.
3. Jane Andersen, Berkeley, CA.
4. Alicia Fernandez, Clarksburg, CA.
5. Neal Fornaciari, Tracy, CA;
6. J. Ray Kennedy, Moronga Valley, CA.
7. Antonio Le Mons, Studio City, CA.
8. Sara Sadhwani, La Canada Flintridge, CA.
9. Patricia S. Sinay, Encinitas, CA.
10. Derric Taylor, Los Angeles, CA.
11. Pedro Toledo, Petaluma, CA.
12. Trena Turner, Stockton, CA.
13. Angela Vazquez, Los Angeles, CA.
14. Russell Yee, Oakland, CA.
California Supreme Court Decision
On 9/23/21 the California Supreme Court ruled on the 2020 California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s petition to clarify and/or modify the writ of mandate issued by the Court on
July 17, 2020 when it ruled that the Commission should have until December 15, 2021 to submit its’ maps to the California Secretary of State due to the delay in release of census results.
If census results were received after July 31, 2021, the Commission’s deadline would be adjusted accordingly to compensate for the additional federal delay.
“The Commission is disappointed that the California Supreme Court did not agree with our justification for a January 14, 2022 deadline to submit final maps to the California Secretary of State” stated Commission Chair Neal Fornaciari. “While disappointed with the ruling, the Commission is committed to ensuring continued public participation in the process and to posting the final set of draft district maps by the court mandated date of November 15, 2021 and to delivering the final district maps to the Secretary of State by the court mandated date of December 27, 2021. The Commission would like to thank the Court for its timely consideration and response to our petition.”
Get to Know the City Council of Sonoma
The City Council of Sonoma is riddled with controversy to say the least. In October 2020, City Councilmember and former Mayor David Cook was arrested for child molestation. Following his arrest, two of Cook’s council colleagues called for his resignation, but Cook did not resign, instead choosing not to attend the final two city council meetings. On December14, 2020, his seat was filled by Sonoma resident Jack Ding, who ran uncontested. In July 2021, Cook was found guilty of repeatedly engaging in acts of molestation of an 11-year-old girl. Because of his “lack of remorse” during the trial he was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence without the possibility of parole.
Also, in the middle of David Cook’s controversy we have seen 3 more councilmembers step down in the last 6 months. Rachel Hundley left mid-term citing a fractious working relationship with fellow councilmembers stating that “Unfortunately, the city council has continued down a path of reckless and, at times, disturbing actions to settle personal scores, grant favors, and elevate only themselves,” Hundley said then. “I don’t have the stomach for it anymore.”
A few months later, Sonoma Mayor Logan Harvey resigned from the city council when he announced that, “Due to a significant career opportunity, I will be resigning as Mayor and my wife and I will be leaving Sonoma on June 8th.” Harvey was elected to the council in 2018. He served as mayor in 2020 and was chosen by fellow councilmembers to continue in that role through 2021. We also saw Council Member Amy Harrington step down in July 2021 for undisclosed reasons.
Here is a look at the remaining City Council Members.
Current acting Mayor, Madolyn Argimonti was moved back to Mayor on June 21st, 2021, when Logan Harvey stepped down. She was first elected to the Sonoma City Council in 2014 and served as Mayor prior to Logan Harvey taking over in 2018. Mayor Argimonti also served as a City Council Member and Mayor of Daly City from 1990 to 2002. The election to fill this seat will be in 2022. She is a registered Democrat and can be reached by emailing her at: Madolyn.Agrimonti@sonomacity.org
Vice Mayor Jack Ding was elected in 2020 and ran uncontested. It is surprising to see that someone with no experience finds himself in the Vice Mayor position as a matter of attrition. He is a member of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Sierra Club and the Citizens to Renew the City of Sonoma's Urban Growth Boundary. He believes in “Planet and People over Profit” as a Climate Change activist. The election for this seat is in 2024. He is a registered Democrat and can be reached by emailing him at: email@example.com
Council Member Kelso Barnett was appointed to fill the council member vacancy created by the resignation of Council Member Rachel Hundley. Council Member Barnett was sworn in at the March 1st City Council Meeting and his appointment was effective immediately. He has served on the City’s Planning Commission. The election to fill this seat is in 2024. He is a registered Democrat and can be reached by emailing him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Member Bob Felder was appointed to fill the council member vacancy created by the resignation of Logan Harvey and also the sudden announcement that Council Member Amy Harrington was going to resign effective July 1st. Council Member Felder was sworn in at the June 21st City Council Meeting and his appointment was effective immediately. He has served on the City’s Planning Commission for over 10 years. The election to fill this seat is in 2024. He is a registered Democrat and can be reached by emailing him at: email@example.com
The Sonoma City Council normally meets at 6:00 p.m., on the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings are held in the Community Meeting Room at 177 First Street West, Sonoma California. City Council meetings are broadcast live on Sonoma TV Channel 27 and streamed live on their website. Archived video can be viewed here.
There will be a special election on November 2, 2021, in order to fill the 5th seat on the City Council. It seems that Council Members are resigning faster than they can elect them. Hopefully Sonoma can find some decent replacements for City Council that will represent the city’s residents.
There will be three candidates running for the 5th seat. Mike Nugent, a small business owner, former Hospital Director and Director of the Community Health Center will be running as Unaffiliated. Sandra Lowe, who is a small business owner and served as a member of the Sonoma Valley School Board will be running as a Democrat. The final candidate, James Cribb is also a small business owner who is a member of the Sonoma Planning Commission and is running as a Democrat. You can view the official Candidate Statement here.
“It is easy to become cynical and to assume there is not hope for something better. There is always hope—and more than that, there is always a possibility of doing better. Like all of our governments, city government belongs to its people. Perhaps it is time for the people of Sonoma to start expecting more from their elected officials.” - former Council Member Rachel Hundley.
Do You Know How to Read Your Property Tax Bill?
For most California counties, the property tax bill will show three categories of charges: General Tax Levy; Voted Indebtedness; Direct Charges and Special Assessments.
When people talk about property taxes, they are talking about the General Tax Levy. This tax is based on the assessed value of land, improvements and fixtures. This generally makes up the largest portion of the tax bill. It is the amount limited by Proposition 13.
Voted Indebtedness charges reflect repayment cost of bonds approved by the voters. Local general obligation bonds for libraries, parks, police, fire facilities and other capital improvements are repaid exclusively by property owners. The California Constitution of 1879 established the two-thirds vote for approval of these bonds.
Direct Charges and Special Assessments are charges for services related to property such as street lighting, regional sanitation, flood control etc. Proposition 218 was passed in order to give property owners a meaningful say in approving new assessments. Property owners must be informed in writing and given the opportunity to cast a protest vote on new charges before an assessment can be imposed or increased.
If you have been paying attention to your ballot every election you will be aware of the many bond and tax proposals that appear on the ballot. There are hundreds of bond and tax proposals in California every election cycle. How many are worthwhile is a debatable issue.
If you have questions about your property tax bill you can contact the Sonoma County Assessor or county tax collector. The phone number for the Auditor-Controller Treasurer-Tax Collector in Sonoma County is 707-565-2631. The address is 565 Fiscal Drive, Room 100 in Santa Rosa.
Clerk-Recorder-Assessor & Registrar of Voters
In 2001, Sonoma County merged the Clerk-Recorder and the Assessor into the combined Sonoma County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters department.
The Assessor’s office is responsible for providing accurate and timely property assessments and for determining eligibility for various property tax exemptions and exclusions.
The County Clerk’s Office issues marriage licenses, files fictitious business name statements, processes notary bonds, handles environmental documents and performs civil marriage ceremonies. The County Clerk Division also issues certified copies of marriage, birth and death records on behalf of the County Recorder.
The Recorder’s Office maintains various land and finance documents for Sonoma County.
Typical land documents include deeds, leases, mining claims, subdivision maps, homestead declarations and records of survey.
Typical finance documents include trust deeds, notices of default, reconveyances and various liens. This division also collects the Documentary Transfer Tax when real property exchanges hands.
Registrar of Voters
The Registrar of Voters is responsible for registering Sonoma County voters and maintaining the County’s voter registration file. The Registrar conducts federal, state and local elections that are held in the county. The Registrar files candidates’ campaign statements and performs other duties related to elections.
Deva Marie Proto is the elected Clerk-Recorder-Assessor & Registrar of Voters.
It is the right of citizens to observe the election activities at the office of the Registrar. Every political group should exercise this right. The Sonoma County Republican Party has been observing the election process and count at the Registrar’s office. 14 people observed the
process of election counting after the Recall Election. It was a very educational process for the observers. This process should occur in every California county. That is how mistakes are corrected and fraud is detected.
The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment was written to keep the government from prying into people’s personal lives. The privacy of our homes, businesses and private papers is protected under the Constitution to prevent the government from fishing for personal or illegal behavior without just cause or without due process of law. This provision protects people from unreasonable invasion of privacy and confiscation of private property by protecting citizens from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures. For example, the Police may gather evidence at a crime scene, or cross private property when pursuing a suspected criminal or to rescue a human life. However, they may not arbitrarily go searching around for violations of the law without just cause.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.