Districts Are Good For Us

A couple years ago, there was a huge debate across the state about redrawing the legislative districts throughout California. And these legislative districts are an important aspect of our statewide events like Local Legislative District Days and I&E Days (I mean, how do you have District Days without districts?).

But district representation is also critical in the local communities we do most of our tobacco control work in. Recently, this news story from San Mateo caught my eye. Last November, San Mateo residents voted to become the last county in California to be divided into districts, rather than having their county board of supervisor members elected at-large.

This is good news to me because in general, having districts makes more accountable representatives and a more accountable government, since a supervisor/member represents fewer people. This gives all community members, in particular diverse populations and those in rural areas of a county, more access to the people who are representing them. This allows their concerns and important issues to be heard and to be considered by the elected body. And in turn, community members can have more power and influence over their decision makers when there are districts.

To us at the American Lung Association in California and the Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing, city council and county supervisor districts are a critical part of planning tobacco policy campaigns as part of the Midwest Academy strategy chart. We spend a lot of time discussing how we can take tactics in campaigns and focus them in the district of a targeted decision maker. Some examples are:

  • Get endorsement letter from groups in the target’s district
  • Collect petition signatures in the target’s district
  • Publish op-ed in newspaper in the target’s district

Focusing on a district helps you be more effective and allows you to do less work with more impact. Because this piece of a strategy is so important, it’s also a big part of a lot of the strategy sessions we do. If you’re interested in learning more, give us a call.

Are there other ways you’ve focused a tactic on a specific district?


-Vanessa Marvin

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