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CR seeks clarity on trustee areas

Less than a year after redistricting of College of the Redwoods divided Del Norte County into two parts, the college Board of Trustees will take up further proposed changes at a special meeting today.

The board will discuss having one trustee represent the western portion of Del Norte County while another represents the eastern part of Del Norte and Humboldt counties, said CR President Kathryn Smith.

The board decided to redraw CR’s trustee areas after the 2010 Census, according to Smith. Under the Voting Rights Act and redistricting requirements, trustee areas’ populations must not vary by much more than 5 percent. Smith said that means each of CR’s trustee areas should have an average of 21,000 residents.

“We’re supposed to get our areas as close to equal as possible,” she said. “I can look at the greater Crescent City area and I can get 21,000 just by taking a big chunk out of the western part of the county.”

CR has nine trustee areas from which representatives are elected. The overall CR district includes Humboldt, Del Norte and parts of Mendocino counties.

Del Norte County currently 28,000-29,000 residents, Smith said, while the trustee area that includes eastern Humboldt County has about 18,000 residents, she said.

“If we take some of the voting precincts out of the eastern part of Del Norte County and combine them with the voter precincts from Humboldt County we can make it work,” Smith said. “Instead of having one trustee from Del Norte County there’s the possibility of having two trustees. One would be representing only the area in Del Norte County, and the other trustee will represent the eastern part of Del Norte and Humboldt counties.”

Last year the Board of Trustees divided Del Norte County into Trustee Area 9, which includes most of Crescent City, Gasquet and Smith River, and Trustee Area 3, which includes Klamath, Orick and eastern Humboldt County.

Under that arrangement, retired teacher Rick Bennett would continue to represent Area 9 until his term expires in 2014. Area 3 is represented by Trustee Sally Biggin, who also represents eastern Humboldt County.

According to Biggin, even though the boundary lines were drawn up last year so that she would be representing parts of Del Norte, she and Bennett don’t know exactly where their district boundary is. She said she hopes today’s meeting will provide clarification.

“Rick and I were trying to find where exactly that line goes,” Biggin said. “Mr. Bennett would say people would ask him ‘am I in your district or not?’ and he really couldn’t say because he hadn’t seen the map.”

According to Bennett, the board has made no determination of what the changed trustee areas will look like and how they will be represented. 

“At this point I think it’s way up in the air,” he said. “As many times as I ask what’s going on, I have not been able to get any detailed answers myself.”

The special meeting will be held 10 a.m. at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center at 921 Waterfront Drive in Eureka. An agenda can be found at www.redwoods.edu.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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