Redistricting panel applicant pool lessens

More than 25 Stanislaus County residents are still eligible to serve on a first-of-its-kind panel that will redraw the state's political boundaries after the 2010 census.

Among the notable local names: Henri Pollard, a member of the Modesto commission charged with drawing boundaries for City Council districts; Ray Newman, a member of the committee that sets wages for the Modesto council; and Karin Reen-stierna, a Stanislaus Union school board member.

About 30,000 Californians initially applied for a spot on the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission. Of that number, 4,894 submitted more detailed application materials due Monday, according to the California State Auditor.

Twenty-six completed applications were received from Stanislaus County, down from an original 231 who applied. Thirty-nine people submitted completed applications from San Joaquin County and six from Merced County.

Voters created the process in 2008 by passing Proposition 11, which took the job away from lawmakers. The measure applies only to state legislative and Board of Equalization districts.

The auditor's office will identify 120 of the most qualified applicants for interviews. The pool will be narrowed to include five Democrats, five Republicans and four nonpartisan or minor-party members.

Critics complained about the panel's lack of diversity after it was determined that about half of the initial applicants were white men.

Supporters of the process countered that with a pool of 30,000-plus applicants, the auditor's office would have more than enough eligible candidates from less-represented demographic groups.

The Fresno Bee contributed to this report.