A six-member panel has been appointed to research the possibility of city council district seats in Sunnyside.
The city council gave the go-ahead to form the committee, known as the Sunnyside Electoral Districting Commission, during its Feb. 12 meeting.
The decision was in response to a college paper that claimed the lack of districting under-represented Sunnyside's Hispanic population, and to address the city's low voter turnout.
"The commission will study the issue concerning council electoral districts and citizen participation in city government, and then provide recommendations back to the city council," Mayor Ed Prilucik said yesterday.
The mayor noted that commission members will be responsible for "studying issues that may be adversely impacting citizen participation in city government." Prilucik added, "This study shall include, but not be limited to, the current at-large districting for all city council positions, the current city council salaries or any other issues that could be adversely impacting citizen participation."
Commission members include three city council members and three individuals from Sunnyside. All were appointed by Prilucik.
City council members Paul Garcia and Theresa Hancock, as well as mayor pro tem Jim Restucci, are on the commission.
Community members appointed to the commission are Jesse Hernandez Jr., Max Saldana and Mona Tovar. Prilucik said the three are "Sunnyside business people and very acquainted with the community."
Hancock said she is looking forward to getting started.
"I'd really like to do an in depth decision on districting and the results," she said. "But my main goal is get people involved in the political process."
Garcia will serve as the commission chair and the panel's recommendations to council will be made by a majority vote. In yesterday's announcement, Prilucik also called on city staff to support the commission as needed.
Hernandez said he's approaching the commission process with an open mind.
"I going into it with no preconceived notions," he said. "We have a good group on the commission and I think we can come up with some good recommendations."
Prilucik said the commission will at a later date present its findings to the city council for review.
"Hopefully we can give the city an idea as to where to go from here," Hancock said.
Prilucik said the commission has not been given a timetable for bringing back a recommendation, though he anticipates the group will start meeting soon to begin the process.
The mayor also indicated that council members may ask for progress updates from Garcia during city council meetings.