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September 19, 2020
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Students housing and voting

By: Paul Matli
November 15, 2019

In what was a standing room only event, Mayor Gina Belforte and colleagues went through a packed agenda. Some of the items were passing resolutions having to do with housing and voting rights as well as honoring students from Rancho Cotate who were elected to the Associate Student Board for the 2019-2020 school year.

Before the main event the council took the time to not only thank the first responders who helped keep the community safe during the Kincade fires, but also businesses and members of the community who provided a safe haven for people as well as providing food for the first responders. This was met with loud applause, as the members in attendance didn’t want these good deeds to go to rest.

After that was the Sonoma State University Student report which set the stage for what was to come later in the night. This topic was about voting. As mentioned previously, the issue of voting was discussed in detail later. On top of working towards getting students registered to vote and educating them on the issues, the SSU students also were hoping to draft a resolution to take out Styrofoam containers.

Once the SSU Student report ended the council left for about an hour to have their closed session meeting. Mayor Belforte and the council didn’t have anything to report out of closed session.

The first topic out of closed session was a speaker for the National Demographics Corporation presenting about changing the voting districts in Rohnert Park. The presentation focused on making sure every district is divided evenly and that disenfranchised groups like Latinos are represented in not only the census, but on voter roles. This is one of two meetings before the district maps will be drawn. The next meeting is Nov. 26.

The presentation focused on two key aspects: Federal Laws and Districting Criteria and Principles. 

The Federal Laws included no gerrymandering based on race, Federal Voting Rights Act and equal population. While districting criteria and principles were focused more on the communities of interest.

Communities of interest “is a population that shares common social or economic interests that should be included within a single district for purposes of its effective and fair representation.” The example used was the Latino population.

All council members agreed it’s time to move forward with a voting redistricting. Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan thought it was ridiculous for the council to still be having this discussion because it should have been done a long time ago. The council passed the resolution 5-0.

After this the meeting finished up talking about housing. Sonoma Mountain Village has made presentations at most of the recent city council meetings and it wasn’t anything new Tuesday night. Spokespeople for Sonoma Mountain Village gave presentations in front of seven of their nine employees and both the council and community members got to weigh in.

This was a lively part of the night as community members got to express their opinions on the issue of housing. 

It was another lively session at Rohnert Park City Hall. Word seems to be getting out about the city council events and community members are attending in large numbers. The next meeting is Nov. 26, and if community members want to go they should look for the agenda online because this way they will know what the council planned discussion will be. Mayor Belforte and the council work really hard to put in good sessions and tonight wasn’t any different.