Politics are confusing.
And sometimes local politics are wildly confusing.
In June, five candidates competed for the District 4 seat on the Merced County Board of Supervisors: Fidel Cervantes, Rich Ford, Jack Mobley, Lloyd Pareira and Ramon Prado. The top two vote-getters, Pareira and Ford, are headed to a runoff in November.
Two of the candidates serve on the county’s planning commission together – Ford and Mobley.
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The planning commission advises the board of supervisors on matters such as land use development and zoning, in accordance with local ordinances. It’s a five-member body, and members are appointed by supervisors. Commission members are paid $75 per meeting plus mileage.
Both Mobley and Ford ran for the District 4 supervisor seat, but Mobley doesn’t represent District 4 on the planning commission; he represents District 3. How can that be?
Like I said, politics can be confusing.
Q: How could Jack Mobley represent District 3 on the Merced County Planning Commission but run for supervisor in District 4?
A: It has to do with the redrawing of district boundaries in 2011.
To comply with state law, supervisorial districts are redrawn every 10 years after the federal census to ensure nearly equal division of the population.
In Merced County, supervisors chose new boundaries in 2011, according to Sun-Star archives. District 5 was mostly untouched since it was close to its population target, but District 3 had significantly more growth than the others. The new map changed boundaries through Merced and Livingston. Merced is split between Districts 1, 2 and 3.
Those changes affected Mobley’s district. Mobley lives near Yosemite Lake and the Merced Golf & Country Club, just outside the Merced city limits. Mobley’s neighborhood switched from District 3 to District 4.
Mobley was appointed to the planning commission in 2004 by then District 3 Supervisor Mike Nelson. He was reappointed by then District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis in 2012, after the boundary change. His term is up this year, according to county documents.
Mike North, spokesman for Merced County, said there’s no requirement to live in the district one represents for an appointment. The only requirement is that the appointee lives in the county.
“I was essentially grandfathered in,” Mobley said.
If Ford is elected, that would leave an empty seat on the planning commission. He would make the new appointment.
If Pareira wins, nothing changes soon for the planning commission.
Mobley’s seat is up this year. Daron McDaniel, District 3 supervisor, said he plans to meet with Mobley to discuss the position. “I’m playing it by ear,” McDaniel said. “I figure I have a couple months.”
McDaniel spoke highly of Mobley but said if he needs to search for a new person to appoint, he will.