Redistricting has been a contentious subject in the States of Alabama, Arizona and California. So much so that two cases involving the redistricting in Alabama and Arizona, will be heard in the United States Supreme Court, no later than June. Political pundits speculate that the ruling in the Arizona case will have ramifications for us Californians too.
Alabama Legislative Black Caucus v. Alabama
Whether Alabama’s legislative redistricting plans unconstitutionally classify black voters by race by intentionally packing them in districts designed to maintain supermajority percentages produced when 2010 census data are applied to the 2001 majority-black districts.
Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission
Whether the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution and 2 U. S. C. § 2a(c) permit Arizona’s use of a commission to adopt congressional districts; and (2) whether the Arizona Legislature has standing to bring this suit.
The reason Arizona’s ruling would have consequences in the Golden State is because we too have an Independent Redistricting Commission, that drew districting lines, that the residents found unsettling, to say the least. Particulary in Council District 10 in the City of Los Angeles.
In 2008, Proposition 11 hit the ballot. (or the Voters FIRST Act) was a law enacted by California voters that placed the power to draw electoral boundaries for State Assembly and State Senate districts in a Citizens Redistricting Commission, as opposed to the State Legislature. To do this the Act amended both the Constitution of California and the Government Code. The law was proposed by means of the initiative process and was put to voters as part of the November 4, 2008 state elections. In 2010, voters passed Proposition 20 which extended the Citizen Redistricting Commission’s power to draw electoral boundaries to include U.S. House seats as well.
Kimball Petition Management was paid $2,332,988 from two separate campaign committees to collect signatures to put this measure on the ballot. Signatures to qualify the measure for the California 2008 ballot measures|November 2008 ballot were submitted to election officials on May 6, 2008. On June 17, the California Secretary of State announced that a check of the signatures had established that the measure qualifies for the ballot
However, resdistricting issues in the City of Los Angeles date back to 1998.
In 2010, after Prop 20 passed, it was getting ready to go down.
The 2012 redistricting fight was one of the more tumultuous episodes at City Hall in recent years. Korean American activists took aim at Wesson, asserting that he and his colleagues drew maps that diluted the political power of the neighborhood, which has a sizable Korean population but is even more heavily Latino.
In February 2012, a month prior to city council voting on the proposed changes, Koreatown residents, especially the Koreans, grew more vocal with their displeasure over being split amongst Council District 10 and 13. Council District 13 was then represented by Mayor Eric Garcetti and would go on to be the recent recipient of Promise Zone funding.
Related article: Why South LA Didn’t Get ‘Promise Zone’ Dollar$
Redistricting maps were approved by City Council in March 2012 and within five months, the Korean community fought back, challenging the ruling by filing a lawsuit.
Grace Yoo, activist and then executive director of the Korean American Coalition, became councilman Herb Wesson’s proverbial thorn in his side. The lawsuit alleges preference was given to the African-American community, which Wesson vehemently denied. Thanks to the Los Angeles Times their lawsuit might have weight. The article quotes Wesson on his involvement with redistricting of the area.
Related article: Wesson accuses council of racial, geographic cliques
Asian-American’s have to date, only had one form of representation on the dais, and that was Michael Woo. A huge supporter of alternative transporation and he still holds the title as the only asian on L.A.’s council. Others have tried.
In council district 13, John Choi ran unsuccessfully against Mitch O’Farrell, to replace Eric Garcetti. I guess CD13 are only looking for a certain “type” for representation. (Shout out to @HollywoodDems).
With the multitude of lawsuits being filed, in regards to voter representation, this isn’t surprising. The City of Compton was threatened with a lawsuit by the Latino residents, which forced officials to change voting for council seats to district only, not at-large like they do for Mayor, City Clerk and Treasurer. In 2013 Isaac Galvan was elected the city’s first Latino on the dais.
With Los Angeles County becoming a hodgepodge of races, every faction wants representation on the council and I don’t blame them. Grace Yoo isn’t the only Asian in the upcoming race. David Ryu is seeking to unseat Tom LaBonge.
With L.A.’s population around 11% Asian and 10% black, according to the 2010 census, it’s remarkable that African Americans occupy three of the council’s 15 seats, and Asian Americans hold none.
If you’re a Supreme Court junkie, keep your eyes out for their ruling in the Alabama and Arizona cases and the race for L.A. City Council. 2 Urban Girls is predicting we will see a runoff between Grace Yoo and Herb Wesson. Count on it.