Hospital districts to resemble county board boundaries

This was Plan A.

A majority of San Benito Health Care District directors supported formation of five voting districts that largely replicate the current county board boundaries, the board chairman confirmed.
Directors voted 4-1 on Thursday in favor of an option, among four total, which largely replicates the county board boundaries redrawn after the 2010 census. That proposal, Plan B, was among three options presented by a hired demographer.
All of the plans included three districts with Latino majorities, but not to the point of “stacking” any proposed district with so many members of a particular group to dilute their vote in other areas.
Hospital board Chairman Gordon Machado along with Directors Jim West, Mary McCullough and Josie Sanchez favored Plan B over Plan A. Director Parveen Sharma voted in the minority.
The five directors at their February meeting 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 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 already had started the process of moving to district elections.
Health care district officials responded 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.
In February, the hospital board held a series of meetings and a required public hearing.
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