Minority Groups Speak Out Against SD County Supervisors’ Redistricting Plan
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
A panel of some of San Diego’s most powerful politicians is facing a challenge from a coalition of minority communities.
A coalition of minority groups has accused the San Diego County Board of Supervisors of using redistricting to bolster their own power. Redistricting redraws political boundary lines to reflect demographic changes in the 2010 census.
Supervisors responded by saying critics should have submitted their alternative map earlier.
The five Supervisors voted unanimously, as they often do, to accept one of three alternative maps to redraw their own district boundaries. Supervisor Ron Roberts praised the County committee that drew up the new maps.
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“There’s a lot of different communities of interest,” Roberts said, “and there’s a lot of viewpoints. I think what you have done here today with each of those three recommended plans is to blend all of those tensions.”
But Jess Haro was one of several Latino speakers who reminded the Board of Supervisors the 2010 census shows more than a third of San Diegans are now Hispanic, and yet all five supervisors are white republicans.
“These maps really don’t fool anybody,” Haro said. ”These are status quo maps, drawn to guarantee the reelection of each and everyone of you on the dais. The maps ignore the Voting Rights Act and the demographic realities of this county and have been consciously drawn to prevent competitive elections - elections where a minority candidate has a real chance of success. “
Barry Pollard of the African American Latino Coalition said creating a district that lumps Lemon Grove and Spring Valley in with La Jolla is not combining communities of interest and does dilute minority votes.
Lori Shellenberger, an attorney with the ACLU, said none of the three maps before the supervisors create even one district with a 50 percent majority of Latinos of voting age.
“The ACLU, in consulting with many national voting rights experts and redistricting leaders from the Latino community, have determined that they all dilute minority voting strength in violation of the voting rights act.” Shellenberger told the board.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the coalition should have offered their suggested “communities of interest” map earlier to the county committee that just wrapped up two months of public hearings.
She dismissed threats from former city attorney Mike Aguirre, who sued the county ten years ago over the redistricting process, and threatened to do so again.
“If it ends up in court, so be it.” Jacob said, “ I think a very fair, equitable job has been done. There has been, in my opinion, adequate time for public input. Having said that,“ she concluded, “the new information deserves a fair analysis by our staff and by our legal people.”
The five supervisors have served together for more than 16 years. Unlike city, state and congressional governments, where new boundary lines are now drawn up by independent commissions, the county board has the power to chose which communities they will represent. They will vote on July 12th on a map to redraw their district boundary lines for the next ten years.