L.A. County voter fight could foreshadow Pasadena battle

PASADENA
- In a contentious battle that only stands to get nastier, the Los
Angeles County Board of Supervisors
approved a voter district map Tuesday sans a second Latino voting district.

Mark
Ridley-Thomas
,
Second District County Supervisor, cast the fourth and deciding vote (such measures must pass
with a super majority) in support of the map without an additional county supervisor district for Latinos. First District County Supervisor Gloria Molina was the lone opposing vote.

Ridley-Thomas
had forwarded his own map, which included a second Latino district, but his proposal failed to garner the support of four
Supervisors.

Ridley-Thomas’
move was more chess than checkers. He sees the likelihood of a
lawsuit, with Latino advocacy groups waiting in the wings to sue the county over the maps, and told the press he would prefer to “hasten” the
process.

Ridley-Thomas is inviting a lawsuit; without a supermajority on the Board of Supervisors it’s the only way he and Molina get a second Latino voter district. 

What
does all the hubbub at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration mean
for Pasadena?

Despite minimal growth in the Latino population in Pasadena, (up a mere 3.2
percent since 2000) the group still accounts for more than one-third
of the city’s population, which is enough to represent a plurality in
more than one of Pasadena’s seven City Council districts.

Those
close to drawing voter lines for both the City Council and the
Pasadena Unified School District have consistently said that the
“communities of interest”
described in federal and state voting
rights provisions must take in account more than just race when penciling the voter boundaries.

On
several occasions, political leaders have made the post racial
argument that social rank and economic status divides Pasadena and
the country more than race.

Drawing
lines to create a plurality of impoverished and working people would
go further to empowering those classes of folks than gerrymandering based on race.

But
if the county serves as the example for organizations determined to seize more electoral power for Latinos, the lawyers for groups such as
MALDEF and LULAC
will only have five words to say to Pasadena’s
political establishment: tell it to the judge.

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