Steve Westly to Co-chair Redistricting Reform Campaign

As Shane Goldmacher reports at capitolalert.com:

Steve Westly, the Silicon Valley Democrat who funded his bid for 2006 bid for governor with his multimillion dollar fortune, has signed on as co-chair of the latest attempt to change how California draws legislative district lines.

Westly joins Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man he once sought to unseat, as co-chair of the campaign.

The measure, sponsored by California Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of California, among others, would strip the Legislature of the power to draw their own districts. The measure does not include congressional districts.

The initiative’s new website has the press release:

Media Contacts:

Molly Weedn (CA Voters FIRST)
415-209-4217 (cell)

Julie Soderlund (Gov. Schwarzenegger)
916-806-1409 (cell)

Joel Berman (Steve Westly)
(650) 208-8819 (cell)

Sacramento, CA – Today, California Voters First announced that former State Controller Steve Westly will co‐chair the redistricting campaign with Governor Schwarzenegger, who announced his support of the reform on December 3, 2007 alongside AARP, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, California Common Cause, and the League of Women Voters of California.

“I’m excited to be a part of this team. Legislators designing their own districts is a clear conflict of interest – this initiative solves that problem. California Voters First puts the task of reapportionment into the hands of a truly independent multi‐partisan commission,” Westly announced today. “This is a cause I’ve advocated for since I was State Controller and I’m looking
forward to all that we can accomplish with this initiative.”

California Voters FIRST campaign chair, California State AARP President Jeannine English welcomed the endorsement, “Mr. Westly joining the leadership team is one more demonstration that our campaign is truly committed to a bipartisan solution that results in fair redistricting reform. He is a champion of good government and having him at the head of our group is a great step towards getting this on the ballot.”

“I want to thank Steve Westly for making redistricting reform a top priority and for joining me as co-chair of this campaign to pass the California Voters FIRST Act,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “The people of this state deserve a system where voters choose the politicians not where politicians choose the voters. I ask all Californians – Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike – to join us in supporting this important measure.”

Governor Schwarzenegger, Steve Westly, AARP, The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, The League of Women Voters and California Common Cause are actively working to gather signatures and qualify the California Voters FIRST Act for the November 2008 ballot.

The Act will create a 14‐person independent citizens commission comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and four individuals not registered as a member of either major party to draw district boundaries for the Senate, Assembly and Board of Equalization. The measure creates a more open and transparent redistricting process, takes the power to draw district lines out of the hands of lawmakers and puts into place a non‐partisan process that requires respecting existing city boundaries, county boundaries and communities.

“Today’s announcement is a great step forward for the campaign and for California’s voters. We need bipartisan co‐chairs like Governor Schwarzenegger and Steve Westly to be at the forefront of this reform. Currently, communities are split up into as many as four districts. This proposal will change that and give a voice to communities currently silenced by the way our legislative districts are drawn. Thank you Governor Schwarzenegger and thank you Mr. Westly for making this important issue a top priority,” Kathay Feng, Executive Director for California Common Cause, said on Tuesday.

The initiative was filed with the Attorney General’s office on October 23, 2007. The measure is a constitutional amendment, which requires 694,354 signatures to qualify for the ballot. Attached is a fact sheet and full text of the California Voters FIRST Act.

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