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Escondido Ready To Fight Voting Rights Suit

Aired 12/15/11 on KPBS News.

Escondido appears to be headed to court over the question of whether the city’s Latino population has a fair chance to be represented on the council. The city risks being sued because it has not decided to change from city-wIde to district elections.

Escondido is not the first city to be sued for failing to comply with the State and Federal Voting Rights Acts. Modesto lost a $3 million legal battle when it fought to keep city-wide elections.

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed is adamantly against district elections.

“I would rather pay $3 million and not divide this community,” he said.

Cezar Diaz of the State’s Building and Construction Trades Council was one of those who appeared before the council last night to urge them to make the change. He said the Council is willing to pay for a lawsuit because it has many members living in Escondido who do not feel they are fairly represented. He said candidates without big campaign war chests have a better chance of winning in district elections.

“Our council has a mission," he said, “to promote our members’ participation in democratic institutions from school boards all the way up to the federal government level. Right now their participation is being hindered as a result of not having district elections.”

The Escondido city council did discuss the issue as a legal matter in closed session. The one Latina on the city council, Olga Diaz, is in favor of district elections, but she said the rest of the council members are unlikely to make the change without a fight.

Comments

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | December 15, 2011 at 9:16 a.m. ― 3 years ago

We Latinos do not need representation as Latinos---WE ARE AMERICANS!!! We came here same reason as our ancestors did---to escape the poverty, corrupted, defunct Mexican culture that plagues 49 million of our brothers and sisters. Being American is more than changing your address, the pronunciation of one's name, and the color of your skin. We have to change our way of thinking, how we treat family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. How we do things and live. This issue is a complete waste of time and only keeps a number of us thinking like a foreigner instead of an American. Remember, it says a lot about our Mexican culture if so many of us are willing to leave beloved Mexico in search of a better life. Let it go and accept the future. Mexico has nothing for us any longer.

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Avatar for user 'mikesd'

mikesd | December 15, 2011 at 10:11 a.m. ― 3 years ago

David65, I completely agree with you in the sense that we don't need representation as Latinos, but also we do not need to be consistently and repeatedly targeted as Latinos. The majority of Latinos in the US want to learn, and in fact learn English, we are active contributing members of American society. I think that is still understandable that many Latinos want to keep their identity, accents, Spanish language (being bilingual is an asset, not a menacing danger to American estasblishment) and cultural and social mores and at the same time feel proud of being Americans.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 15, 2011 at 3:40 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"We Latinos do not need representation as Latinos---WE ARE AMERICANS!!! We came here same reason as our ancestors did---to escape the poverty, corrupted, defunct Mexican culture that plagues 49 million of our brothers and sisters."

Reread what you wrote. You need to rephrase that.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | December 15, 2011 at 3:42 p.m. ― 3 years ago

"We have to change our way of thinking, how we treat family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. How we do things and live. This issue is a complete waste of time and only keeps a number of us thinking like a foreigner instead of an American."

Monolithic thinking? You oppose heterogeniety?

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Avatar for user 'Roberto Rolando Salinas'

Roberto Rolando Salinas | December 16, 2011 at 7:11 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Nothing could be further from the truth. As an ethnic minority, Latinos, mostly Mexican-Americans, have been discriminated against judicially, politically, and have been, and are, the target of selective law enforcement. Anyone who denies these facts is ignorant of the Mexican-American experience in the United States. The racial repression that has been demonstrated thru out the country with anti-immigration laws are directly targeted at Mexican-Americans and other Latino groups. Racism is alive and well in the United States, as it is in California, and especially Escondido. The political leaders that refuse to allow political representation of all voters, know very well they will lose control and power. By refusing to respect the rights of all citizens, the tired and failed racist policies reflect the mentality of those political elected officials, like the County Board of Supervisors, and Escondido Mayor Sam Abed. Mexican-Americans like many other Latino groups have had to fight, at times violently, for the rights accorded by the constitution to all the people. In the face of the facts, it is truly unfortunate that there are some that have forgotten our history.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | December 16, 2011 at noon ― 3 years ago

I must really be missing this whole issue. Why is it that holding a city-wide election is racist? Are the economic barriers of funding a campaign (at any scale) not the same for everyone of the same level of affluence? Is there some special system generated barrier to aspiring Mexican-American politicians that are not also felt by aspiring African-American, Korean-American, Irish-American, Belgian-American and Canadian-American politicians?

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