The Times: Los Angeles County’s Independent Redistricting Process Has Eliminated the Power of Incumbency

The Times: Los Angeles County's Independent Redistricting Process Has Eliminated the Power of Incumbency

Op-Ed: Fair and independent redistricting? Los Angeles County does it already

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the legislative body that draws up nearly all of the city’s voting districts, has done just that, in an independent, nonpartisan process that began in 1992. It has, according to The Times’ analysis, “almost completely wiped out the power of incumbency, with a new sheriff, a few councilmembers, and the mayor all being elected by a majority of the voters.”

Here, from the “What’s Left” section, an interactive map shows the resulting “supermajority”:

The Times found dozens of examples of districts where voters could have prevented an incumbent from winning but did not because an independent redistricting process prevented it.

In most of these districts, however, the voters did not have a chance to act, and in nine of the 11 cases where elections were actually held, the voters returned district officials to office.

The Los Angeles Times has posted on its front page a selection of examples:

A couple of the most notable examples of the outcome in these districts:

• The incumbent district attorney, who finished third in the primary, took a close three-way race and became the second-ever elected Los Angeles County sheriff, with the incumbent at the top of the ticket.

• In 2006, Los Angeles County District Attorney Peter Keisler became the first incumbent elected sheriff, which he also did in an open primary. The district attorney is now running again as the incumbent.

• In 1998, Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley was running for reelection in a race that had high expectations but ended up with a runoff. Instead, he was defeated by a Republican named Bob Ferguson, whose family had served as Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department chief of police for nearly 70 years.

“The fact is, nobody knows how it happens,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, the author of the independent redistricting rules. “What’s left is the hope, but not the certainty. … I’m in this for the hope.”

While the board has not yet explained how it arrives at the supermajority,

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