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Redistricting plan keeps Ceres split
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The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors have unanimously set on new supervisorial district lines which will see Ceres continue to be split between two districts, but will keep a more compact District 5 which focuses on the west side.

"Today it comes down to two things, it's either keeping Ceres whole, or putting Supervisor (Jim) DeMartini in a position where he goes from Newman all the way to Empire," explained Supervisor Vito Chiesa before the vote on Tuesday, Aug. 23.

The supervisors faced three potential redistricting maps, drafted through an eight-month process entailing seven public meeting and nearly 30 comments. The redistricting effort, required once per decade following the census, is intended to equalize population between Stanislaus County's five districts, so each citizen's vote is of equivalent strength.

The chosen option, dubbed "option two - alternative," will split Ceres between District 5 and District 4. South Modesto will be part of District 5 as well - a district which will continue to represent all of the west side.

While supervisors universally supported containing Ceres within one district, the city's large population made such district lines difficult to draw. As the county has a fixed population, planners faced a complicated balancing act where any population added to a district must be replaced with population taken from another area, making all district populations unbalanced once again.

"Ideally, I'd like to have all of Ceres, but the numbers just don't work out," said DeMartini.

In the adopted plan, 93 percent of Ceres' population lives in District 5, while about 3,700 residents live in District 4. Supervisor Terry Withrow noted Modesto is split among three supervisors due to population concerns, as well.

"I don't think there's any perfect solution here for Ceres," Withrow said.

District 2, which contains Turlock, Denair, Hughson, and Keyes, will largely remain intact, losing the part of Ceres it once contained but gaining all of the Chatom School District.

"The committees closely considered the comments submitted from residents of the Turlock area," said county spokesperson David Jones, who oversaw the redistricting effort. "The result is a district map where residents of Turlock, Denair and Keyes remain in one supervisorial district and Chatom School District boundaries are now all contained on one district as well."

The chosen alternative won out over option two - essentially the same plan, though lacking several cleanup items which were included in the alternative. Those included adjustments to make supervisorial district lines mirror school district lines in Hughson and Modesto, Empire Municipal Advisory Council boundaries, and to place Ceres' sphere of influence in District 5, rather than split the city between three districts as initially proposed.

Also rejected by supervisors was Option 1, a plan which would have placed South Modesto in District 3, with District 5 subsuming the entirety of Ceres. That plan was supported by Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra - and the entire Ceres City Council - but was ultimately rejected by supervisors for its impacts on District 5. In order to balance the loss of population from sending South Modesto to District 3, the plan called for District 5 to include Empire and the Beard Industrial Tract, and creating a district which stretched from Newman to Empire.

The three options considered Tuesday were selected as the best of six maps drafted. The three rejected maps were turned down prior to supervisorial review for failing to keep the Westside intact, splitting municipal advisory councils in two, or grossly redistributing minority votes.

The redistricting plan returned on the supervisors' consent calendar at yesterday's meeting for a final, largely formal, vote confirming the selection.