County Supervisors’ New District Maps A Mixed Victory For Minorities
Monday, September 5, 2011
San Diego County Board of Supervisors will hold a special meeting Tuesday to vote on new maps to define their district boundaries for the next 10 years.
The Board agreed in July to change their preferred maps, to give minority communities in the South Bay more voting power.
The Supervisors were under pressure from the ACLU and communities of color to recognize the increase in minority voters shown in the census. All five members of the board are white and have held office four terms or more.
Many people were surprised when the supervisors agreed to modify their new district boundaries, rather than fight a challenge saying they violated federal voting rights.
Lori Shellenberger of the ACLU said the modified maps make the South Bay district a “majority minority” district.
“By creating a Latino, African American majority, it gives African Americans and Latinos an opportunity to elect a candidate that represents their interests in that district,“ she said. “It’s significant in that every map to date that the Board of Supervisors has drawn has created a white majority in all five districts.”
The South Bay district, District 1, is represented by Greg Cox who has held the post for 16 years, and is up for reelection next year.
Shellenberger said the new maps still water down minority votes around the county but unlike the previous maps, they do not violate the federal voting rights act.
Minority communities in San Diego have mixed feelings about the maps. Barry Pollard, a member of the African American /Latino Coalition, said the Supervisors have handed minority groups a victory and a defeat.
“They followed the letter of the law,” Pollard said, “We wanted a majority minority district and we certainly have that, but we got it at the expense of keeping the African American community together.”
Pollard said south east San Diego, a predominantly African American community, is now split between three different districts.
“There’s this whole divide and conquer thing that seems to be going on as it relates to communities of color, “ he said.
Pollard said he’d like to see the power to redraw districts be taken away from the supervisors.
Shellenberger said the new maps are a first step towards better representation.
“I think people feel discouraged,” she said, “because the Board of Supervisors in the end are drawing their own map - and the instinct in the end is always to protect your own incumbency. But I think the County listened when we came out in July to speak on behalf of communities, and I think people should continue to do so.”
Tuesday’s special meeting begins at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the County Administration Building.
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