First, there were three. Now there are ... four.
After more than two hours of public discussion Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors failed to agree on new boundaries for their five supervisoral districts.
They began the debate with three proposed maps and in the end they voted to add a fourth and continue their discussion to their July 26 meeting.
The supervisors are redrawing their district boundaries based on the 2010 census. They have until November to approve a final map.
Contra Costa County has grown to more than 1 million people, so each of the districts needs to have about 210,000 residents.
The largest growth the past decade has occurred in the San Ramon Valley and East Contra Costa County.
The issue of whether to divide cities among districts split the board almost down the middle Tuesday afternoon.
Supervisors Mary Piepho and Gayle Uilkema said they favored keeping cities intact.
"Keeping cities whole should be a priority," said Piepho.
"I believe we came up with a unified statement at our last meeting that cities should stay intact," said Uilkema. "One of my overriding goals is that we live up to our word."
However, Supervisors Karen Mitchoff, Federal Glover and John Gioia said dividing cities is unavoidable.
"While we don't want to split cities, it's inevitable," said Mitchoff.
"Something has to be split," added Glover.
Gioia said it's more important to keep regions such as West Contra Costa, the San Ramon Valley, Lamorinda and East County together.
"When Hercules is tacked onto a district that includes Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda, they feel powerless," said Gioia.
Before their discussion, the supervisors heard a slew of comments from city officials and residents. Most of them asked the board to keep cities intact and to keep regions with common interests in the same district.
Walnut Creek Mayor Cindy Silva said her city has suffered from being part of three districts the past decade.
"The fifth largest city in the county deserves to be the top priority in one single district," she said.
Silva urged the supervisors to approve a map where the five largest cities are in five different districts.
Concord officials and residents asked that their community not be divided, even though it is the largest in the county.
Clayton officials chimed in, saying they want to be in the same district as Concord because of the two communities' shared interest.
However, Carol Hehmeyer, a member of the Contra Costa Citizens Redistricting Task Force, said it makes sense to divide the biggest town.
"I think it's only appropriate the largest city be split first," she said.
East County officials and residents also urged the board to keep their region intact. Several of them held up signs with a "6" on them, urging the board to reconsider "concept map 6" that kept most of East County in one district.
"I hope you'll do what's right for the people," said Antioch Mayor James Davis, "and not what's right for your re-electability."
Mitchoff bristled at that suggestion. She said she represents all portions of her district equally, no matter if the entire town is in her region or not. She also said having more than one supervisors wasn't a major handicap.
"Having to talk to two supervisors isn't that big a deal," she said.
Piepho made a motion to move forward with two maps. One is Proposal 15, which keeps the districts similar to what they are now. No cities are split under this plan.
The other is Proposal 16, which moves more of East County into Piepho's district and combines the San Ramon Valley with Lamorinda into Uilkema's district. Walnut Creek and Concord are split under this map.
Eventually, Proposal 17 was added. That map also combines Lamorinda with the San Ramon Valley and part of Walnut Creek. The communities of Concord, Pinole and Antioch are also distributed over two districts.
Finally, a new proposal by Glover called Proposal 17D was also added.
All these maps can be viewed by going to the county's redistricting website here.
In two weeks, the debate will renew.