Anaheim Excludes Latino Majority District From 2016 Election

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When the Anaheim City Council last month adopted “The People’s Map” in its switch from electing council members at-large to a districts-based system, the room erupted in cheers and applause for a districts map that almost everyone agreed was the best choice.

But all that goodwill turned to frustration Tuesday night when the council decided in a split 3-2 vote to exclude the only Latino majority district on the map from electing a council member in the 2016 general election. Instead, the district’s voters will have to wait until 2018 to choose their representative under the new system.

The vote was the culmination of a years-long battle over how the city is governed, and specifically whether its at-large council elections have prevented the city’s Latino residents, who makeup 54 percent of the city, from having adequate representation on the council.

The ACLU and Latino activists sued the city in 2012, alleging that the at-large voting system barred Latino voters from electing their preferred candidates. City leaders in 2014 decided to settle the suit and agreed to switch to district elections. With majority or plurality Latino districts, the Latino community would be guaranteed representation.

Under the chosen districts map, two districts are known as Latino plurality — meaning Latinos have the largest citizen voting age population but aren’t over 50 percent of the district. One is a Latino majority district, which has a Latino citizen voting age population of over 50 percent.

Until Tuesday, the transition seemed to be going smoothly. A panel of judges recommended the districts map, which was vetted at community meetings and had broad support. And the council also signaled its support of the map last month.

But things got complicated at Tuesday night’s meeting when it came time for council members to decide which four of the six council districts would elect representatives in 2016. The other two districts would have to wait until 2018.

The ten public speakers who addressed the issue supported putting the Latino majority district up for election in 2016, along with the two Latino plurality districts and a district on the far west end of the city.

Members of the council majority – specifically council members Jordan Brandman, Kris Murray and Lucille Kring — argued that the Latino majority district already has representation because Councilman James Vanderbilt, who is half Latino, lives in the district. They also argued the district has been historically well represented because several council members in the past have resided there. Brandman also lives in the district, he noted.

“We have a sitting Latino representative in three,” said Kring in a reference to the Latino majority district in the center of the city. “Mr. Vanderbilt has served there, and served there honorably.”

They argued that switching to district elections was about giving fair representation to all neighborhoods. They pointed out that two districts on the west end of the city have had little to no representation in decades and said both should go up for election first. That would give full representation to all the districts in 2016, they argued.

“It actually keeps the promise to voters,” Murray said.

The logic bewildered some in the crowd. Several had no idea Vanderbilt was Latino until that night, and whispers about personal political agendas driving the decision – such as Brandman’s U.S. congressional campaign or a rumor that Murray would be running for mayor in 2018 – could be heard.

Vanderbilt himself brought up a point that undermines the council majority’s argument. He pointed out that he actually won second place in the citywide election. While under an at-large system that means he still won a seat, under a district election there is no seat for second place.

It’s also largely assumed that incumbents might be moving around the city in order to run in a district where they think they will win. So if Vanderbilt moves, he’s no longer representing the district under the council majority’s logic.

Kring openly doubted that Vanderbilt would be moving anywhere, but when Tait asked Vanderbilt whether he would be moving before 2018, Vanderbilt was clearly uncomfortable and avoided the question.

“I would answer if you wanted to ask the entire council that question,” Vanderbilt said.

Also, Vanderbilt appeared to be irked by indications from the council majority that they were assigning him that district’s representation when in reality he’s an at-large elected council member. “Even though I was elected at large, I’m being told I’m representing district three,” he said.

As it became clear how the council majority was going to vote, Latino activists who had attended the meeting to support putting the Latino majority district up for election walked out of the council chambers. They could be heard rallying in the lobby as the council debate was wrapping up.

Ultimately, council members voted to place two Latino plurality districts up for election in 2016, as well as the two districts on the west end. Brandman, Murray and Kring voted for the motion, and Tait and Vanderbilt voted against it.

Tait said that to exclude the only Latino majority district from the next election after almost two years in court and over $2 million spent in taxpayer money seemed like the wrong decision.

“To now not include district three, the most Latino district in the city, to put that off to 2018… it just doesn’t seem right,” Tait said.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • Vern Pat Nelson

    What really irritated me was to have to hear Lucille Kring and Kris Murray, who spent $2 million of taxpayer money to fight AGAINST district elections, explain to the rest of us what the purpose and spirit of district elections is.

    By the way everybody follows Lucille and Tom’s lead in saying there were 10 speakers, all for letting 1-3-4-5 vote, and none for 1-2-4-5. Actually perennial candidate Rudy Gaona who lives in the 2nd, did ask for 1-2-4-5, and was the lone voice in the crowd heard to whoop with joy when the council majority picked that option.

  • Wes Jones

    We the people of Anaheim deserve what we got. A long time before the last city council election, anyone who could read knew what was going on with the Pringle owned council. And we still elected Murray. Low voter turnout, a poorly informed electorate, Is how it happens. Makes me think what good is districting if the big money wins anyway

  • kburgoyne

    Unbelievable. Sheesh. Just take the politics OUT of the whole thing. Is there NO ONE with any honor or ethics anymore?

    Assign a Bingo ball to each of the six districts. Dump the six balls into a Bingo ball tumbler. Have five citizens in the audience take turns taking a ball from the tumbler. (The sixth, being the left over, doesn’t really need anyone special to draw it.) Make a list of the districts in the order drawn from the tumbler.

    To make it all “legal” the council simply needs to vote to approve the randomly generated list.

    I dunno… is it because honorable and ethical people simply cannot stomach the idea of holding an elected position where they’d have to fight with all the dishonorable and unethical elected people?

    Yeah sure, some people are going to whine, scream, and complain if the districts they wanted were not selected first, but they can be ignored on the basis of the process being fair and they’re just trying to play politics like they’d complain about if other people got to select the order. There are always people who are going to whine and complain about anything and everything. However selecting at random is fair because it means NOBODY got away with playing politics to get their way over anybody else.

  • astar2b

    Biggest boondoggle? Not ARTIC or the Great Park; it’s the Anaheim City Council…

  • Jeanine

    Lucille dismissed all citizen comments by saying that “only 10 people came and spoke” instead of acknowledging that 100% of the speakers were requesting the same districts for the 2016 election. Once again, the city council ignores the people’s wishes. Once Jordan’s campaign fails for Loretta Sanchez’s seat rumor has it he will move to District 2 to run for the City Council Seat there which made it doubly important for him that District 2 be included for 2016. Jordan, Lucille, and Kris were also adamant that District 3 would be represented by James, which is not how he sees it. Trust me he will move faster than a jack rabbit should a short term rental open up next to him. By eliminating District 3 fro 2016 elections they were also able to eliminate a 2016 campaign by Jose Moreno. The residents will talk with their votes in the upcoming elections and the three who voted for their own well being last night will be gone.

    • RyanCantor

      In other news . . .

      The Chamber of Commerce in Anaheim is hosting a fundraiser to retire $40,000 of Kring’s campaign debt.

      How interesting that Kring would vote to exclude District 3 in such close proximity to someone offering to help her repay a substantial loan . . . wait for it . . . to HERSELF.

      • Jeanine

        She’s getting her ducks in a row for her next campaign. However, she has never shown any interest in resident concerns in District 4 and the residents continue to see that with her cavalier attitude towards the STR issue they are currently facing. She should save her money and give up the post in 2016.

        • Cynthia Ward

          So they have Connor Traut for District 1 unless someone gets in there, grabs the pup by the scruff of the neck, and explains the importance showing respect for the real residents who have been busting butt for years, some for DECADES,to make West Anaheim better (or slow the decay) while the upstart cuts corners on the way to the White House with Daddy’s money!

          Jordan will move to District 2. That’s been telegraphed and nearly become a billboard.

          Kring will try clinging to District 4, but now has to face the very Ponderosa neighborhood she has been offending with her ignorant and heartless comments. (Last Council meeting she kept telling Ponderosa residents with REAL PROBLEMS directly caused by City of Anaheim decisions, that they had to go through the “process” and even denied that a “pilot program” to lift the APD imposed parking ban had ever happened, simply because she has been on Council a long time and doesn’t remember it, so of course it could not have happened! Yet as the West Anaheim resident that Jordan (bizarrely) tore into pointed out, their special friends don’t have to wait and go through the process, they jump to the front of the line. (Disney skipped the process so completely they initiated the continuation of the gate tax exemptions without producing a SINGLE PUBLIC RECORD!) Now Lucille gets to face those constituents! That show is going to need popcorn. (she does not yet have the slightest clue how her buddies on Council totally hosed her to approve that map, and I would bet dollars to donuts they have someone viable lined up to run against her, having extracted all of the usefulness they will get from her)

          But who have they got lined up for District 5?

          Anyone have an idea who is on deck for the Stadium District? Or will they move Steven Albert Chavez Lodge in to a loft in the Platinum Triangle? Conveniently Pringle already as a stake in a building, who knows how many candidates may already be getting mail there? (only a joke, calm down.)

          Jeanine, I am not sure Lucille CAN vote on the STR issue. She has complained about one directly behind her own south Anaheim home, which means she has a direct economic interest in the issue. That is at least one of the economic interests we can visibly trace…Hey has anyone ever challenged her voting on issues linked to those retiring her debt? Is there ANY DOUBT that her debt to herself (and money going right into her own pocket) would NOT be repaid by those donating now if she was not a sitting Council member today? Hmm….(I am supposed to be on vacation. No, not going to do this, I’m not…I’m not…)

          I like KBurgoyne’s idea, random selection would be the ONLY fair and equitable way to do this. But Fair and Equitable are foreign concepts to this crowd of 3, so we get their twisted logic sticking carefully to script. Look for the lawsuit….which is where every citizen in Anaheim needs to go ape*&^%! HOW MANY LAWSUITS will these idiots provoke their own citizen into before we get tired of seeing pothole-filling, parks reseeding money go out the back door to the outside Counsel hired by Michael Houston to defend yet ANOTHER legal challenge because the City Council can’t be bothered to follow the law even when dealing with people who have sued them in the past and proven themselves capable of it in the future?!

          In the business world we see corporations settle suits they know they would win, because it is cheaper and gets them out of negative publicity. But the City Council is driven by hubris, paying $400 an hour to lawyers from other peoples’ money, so who cares, right?

    • Kevin

      ‘Lucille dismissed all citizen comments by saying that “only 10 people came and spoke”‘

      Reminds me of the Council meeting where Kring similarly ignored public input by declaring that she’d received an unspecified number of E-mails from people (good, honest people who were too busy to come to meetings or intimidated by the thuggery of public comment time or whatever) — and amazingly, *those* people were unanimously in agreement with her predecided opinion, so thanks for coming (you emotional, uninformed rabble), but she was voting with the silent majority.

      Kring is clearly of the belief that being a public official would be *so* much easier if you never had to deal with the *public*, y’know?

  • Paul Lucas

    Boy Jordan will sure be the recipient of the Latino appreciation when the primaries come around.

  • RyanCantor

    “Tait said that to exclude the only Latino majority district from the next election after almost two years in court and over $2 million spent in taxpayer money seemed like the wrong decision.”

    True, but at least it’s consistent. The council has voted over and over again to screw this particular set of voters over.

    Just how many million will it cost this time is the question. I strongly doubt Kris Murray will be paying the city’s legal bill.

  • David Zenger

    Also, Vanderbilt appeared to be irked by indications from the council
    majority that they were assigning him that district’s representation
    when in reality he’s an at-large elected council member. “Even though I
    was elected at large, I’m being told I’m representing district three,”
    he said.

    Exactly. He represents the entire City. Any other rationalizing is just trying to hide this bald fact: the Kleptocracy is desperate to keep working the plantation as long and as hard as they are able.