Yes on W1: Create a citizens redistricting board

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Shirley Sun/Staff

It’s a no-brainer: The politicians on Berkeley City Council shouldn’t have the power to draw and redraw district lines, especially when they’re the ones running for reelection.

The redistricting process has been rife with political problems since it started in 1986, and in 2014, it was so contentious that district lines actually went to the ballot for voter approval. Redistricting fights at best waste City Council’s time.

Measure W1 would create an independent citizens board to draw district lines. Seems like a much better idea than letting politicians do it — especially when their political futures so often hang in the balance.

In 2008, the state of California took the power of redistricting away from the state Legislature and gave it to an independent board. Since then, the process has become far less contentious, far more efficient and hearteningly nonpartisan.

Berkeley should follow suit. In fact, in a city known for pushing the political envelope and being a national leader, it’s a little embarrassing that we’re getting this done now. In any case, we’re more than happy to play catch-up for badly needed reform.

The board will be composed of those who apply and will exclude city employees. W1 takes strides to eliminate bias in the way districts are drawn, and geographic diversity is built into its design.

Berkeley needs this. Berkeley has to have Measure W1.

Endorsements represent the majority opinion of the Senior Editorial Board as written by the opinion editor.