Fullerton Set to Hold Another Public Hearing on Voting District Maps

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The Fullerton City Council is set to hold another public hearing Tuesday on voting district maps after a Superior Court judge ruled that the council’s selection of a map in June violated the terms of a settlement agreement on Voting Rights Act lawsuits.

Barring any further legal action, the map the council selects Tuesday will be on the November ballot, which will give Fullerton voters the opportunity to chose whether to keep the city’s current at-large electoral system or transition to one in which council members are chosen by district.

The move towards district-based voting is the result of a settlement reached last July after a suit filed by attorney Kevin Shenkman on behalf of resident Kitty Jaramillo — and another by the American Civil Liberties Union and Asian Americans Advancing Justice on behalf of resident Jonathon Paik — alleged that the current system disenfranchises minority voters.

The city is 22.8 percent Asian and 34.4 percent Latino, according to the 2010 Census. All five council members are white and an Asian hasn’t sat on the council since 2000.

Last month, Judge James Crandall ruled that the council’s original choice (known as map “8A”) violated the public hearing portion of the settlement agreement. He found that it only had been through one public hearing, as opposed to the two hearings mandated in the settlement.

Crandall also expressed concern that 8A, which is touted by the city’s business community, weakens the voice of downtown residents because the map splinters the area into five separate districts.

That map will be among four up for consideration at Tuesday’s public hearing. Also included is map “2B,” which is favored by many in the community and went through numerous public hearings, input sessions and a couple of revisions over the months leading up to the decision.

Map 2B was also the recommended choice to the council by demographer David Ely of Compass Demographics at the May public hearing when the original version of 8A was introduced.

“I believe that map 2B is the best reflection of the full public process we had,” Ely told the council in May.

The public hearing starts at 6:30 p.m. at Fullerton City Hall.

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC contributing writer. He can be reached at spencercustodio@gmail.com.