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Demographic Shift Could Lead To Leadership Shake-Up

Voters in San Diego's District 4 will soon weigh in on whom their next city councilmember will be. An African American has represented the district since 1969. But a new study out from the National University System Institute for Policy Research said the makeup of the district is changing. The institute’s Vince Vasquez said that could impact future elections.

Aired 1/24/13 on KPBS News.

Changing demographics in San Diego may mean the city’s traditionally African American City Council district could look different in the future.

National University System Institute for Policy Research

A map of San Diego's District 4. The red sections represent the portion of the district removed during 2010 redistricting. The blue section is the new addition to the district. Purple represents the area that remained District 4 after redistricting.

"Latinos and Asians are not only increasing in population and are now in greater numbers than African Americans and caucasian," he said. "But, in just the last five years, Asian and Latino voter registration has increased dramatically."

Additionally, the city's African American population dropped 15 percent between 2000 and 2010. Vasquez said many historical African American communities are losing members as the economic situations of blacks improve and they move to different neighborhoods.

The report projects less than a quarter of District 4's registered voters are expected to actually vote in the special election. Vasquez said that, combined with the increasing diversity of the community, and the large number of candidates, means the upcoming special election is anyone's race.

"It's a ground game," he said. "It really is get out the vote."

Vasquez said it’s likely an Asian or Latino candidate will win the district in the future. And the district is known for embracing diversity. In 1967, voters elected Asian American Tom Hom. He was the city’s first Asian councilmember.

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