Molina Backs Plan for Two Hispanic Districts
By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Aug. 9 on a proposed map that sets new boundaries for the County’s five supervisorial districts. The local redistricting committee has recommended a map, however, Supervisor Gloria Molina—who represents the first district—says she does not support the plan, which makes only small changes to current district boundaries.
Read this story IN SPANISH: Molina Quiere Dos Distritos Representados por Hispanos
Speaking at the East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce luncheon on July 27, Molina told the dozens of business owners present that she and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (2nd District) are supporting a county redistricting plan that would create two Latino-majority districts.
“…The Latino community is now almost 48 percent of the entire population of the nearly 10 million people we represent,” she said. “We are now going to challenge the County of Los Angeles to place two districts where potentially a Latino/Latina could get elected.”
The plan [Amended S1] supported by Molina and Ridley-Thomas would substantially change district boundaries.
The first district would include East Los Angeles, many of the Southeast cities, including Bell Gardens and Commerce, then “cut through downtown, take off and go in the direction of Eagle Rock and that area and cut through Burbank, all the way to the San Fernando Valley,” Molina said about the proposal that will be presented at the upcoming meeting, along with the plan recommended by the Boundary Review Committee. She said areas like Pico Rivera will be “included in what is known as a larger San Gabriel district.”
Montebello would also be in that district, and Monterey Park would be in a new district that would include Pasadena, San Marino, and Glendale among other cities, if approved.
The new first district would include much of the Northeast San Fernando Valley.
“If we are successful in getting that passed, there would be an opportunity for two Latinos to get elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors which we think would be a significant and important thing if we are to truly have a representative government,” she said.
Molina anticipates the rest of her colleagues—Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky, Don Knabe and Michael Antonovich—won’t be as supportive as Ridley-Thomas because it would significantly change their districts.
“Frankly, I think they will vote for what will be the popular map which would be the status quo kind of map in which a little edge drawing here, a little inclusion there, and here and there and for the most part, we might end up with the regular map,” she said.
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) last month issued an action alert urging residents call the Supervisors ask them to approve the plan that would create two Latino-majority supervisorial districts. The e-mail sent by the organization states that Yaroslavsky, Knabe and Antonovich opposed the second Latino district because they want to protect their district lines and ability to get elected.
During the luncheon, Molina acknowledged that redistricting is controversial and said the last time the districts were adjusted—about 21 years ago—the supreme court had to step in and force the creation of what is now the first district. Legal challenges are expected regardless of the map approved, and lawyers are already preparing to challenge the Board of Supervisors, she said. Molina is the first Latino to serve one the board, she was elected following the Supreme Court’s decision that the county had violated the Votings Right Act.
“I think that over all, in the Latino Community, we all recognize and understand that more and more Latinos, are engaged in civic life and as professionals and in elected office we should have those people representing us as well and the only way to do it is by creating that type of opportunity,” she said.
The 10-member advisory Supervisorial Boundary Review Committee (BRC) was established in 2010 and charged with using 2010 Census population data to determine if districts should be adjusted to account for the population and demographic changes.
Over a dozen redistricting plans were submitted to the committee for consideration. On July 13, the BRC voted to recommend a plan that “reflects adjustments to the current supervisorial district boundaries and reduces the total population deviation among the districts… to 1.69 percent,” according to the Aug.9 staff report.
This plan [A2] would “adopt a series of minor boundary adjustments” and complies with legal requirements and the “one-person, one-vote” principal. It also doesn’t split more cities and “preserves the ability of cohesive minority groups to elect candidates of their choice and does not use race as a predominant factor in determining the boundaries,” the report states.
Several laws regulate the redistricting process; one of them is the Voting Rights Act that prohibits the dilution of minority voters in order to impede their ability to elect a candidate of their choice. However, the BRC has recommended the plan that does not create two majority Hispanic districts on the grounds that “it appears that Hispanic candidates of choice were usually able to be elected,” the plan states.
If the two Latino-majority districts are approved, there would only be a slight majority—52 to 56 percent of the population—said Roxane Márquez, legislative aide for Molina. The Board of Supervisors must approve a plan through a 4 to 1 vote, which will be a major challenge, she added.Print This Post
August 4, 2011 Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.