Hospital board wants time for more scrutiny on district maps

The new support services building is up and running now.

San Benito Health Care District directors Thursday scheduled a possible decision on proposed district maps for future board elections and indicated they wanted more time for their own consideration and public feedback.
The five directors also unanimously agreed to add a fourth map to the health care district’s website materials on the subject to go along with the three maps prepared by a hired demographer.
That fourth map is the one presented by a Visalia law firm—where former county District Attorney John Sarsfield is a partner—which has challenged the current at-large selection of the elected directors. The firm’s challenge of the system actually came after the hospital board last year had already started the process of moving to district elections.
Health care district officials are responding to requirements in the federal Voting Rights Act to ensure protected minority communities are fairly represented. The lawsuit from Sarsfield’s law firm contended the at-large system deprives Latinos of an “ability to voice preferences meaningfully” and the suit called for district elections—which hospital officials were exploring at the time of the court document’s filing—as a remedy.
On Thursday, the hospital board held a required public hearing and had the authority to approve one of the maps, but chose to hold off so that officials and the community would have more time to ponder the proposals.
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