The Anaheim City Council Tuesday night unanimously chose a council districts map for the 2016 fall election that had broad support from members of the community and was dubbed “the people’s map.”
Adoption of a districts map is a crucial step in the process of changing the city’s at-large council elections to a districts-based system. Council members still have to approve an ordinance implementing the map at a future meeting and also decide which of the new districts will be first to go up for election.
Anaheim leaders agreed to put a districts-based election system before voters in last November’s election when it settled a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit brought by Latino activists and the ACLU. The suit alleged that the at-large elections left Latinos, who constitute 54 percent of the city’s population, without adequate representation.
Voters overwhelmingly approved the measure and another that called for increasing the size of the council from four members and a mayor to six members elected by district and a mayor who will still be elected at large.
Currently, all five council members are white. The map council members chose, which was recommended by a panel of retired judges after months of hearings, has three districts where Latinos are considered to have strong chances at winning a seat.
The map also has other benefits that supporters touted, including a very small population deviation between districts. It also kept “communities of interest” – like the Arab-American business corridor known as Little Arabia and elementary school districts – in the same districts. The districts are also geographically contiguous.
“Every single district carefully addresses all the things that are important,” Martin Lopez, an Anaheim resident and representative with the hotel workers union UNITE HERE Local 11.
Council members are next expected to decide which four districts go up for election in 2016 at their Nov. 17 council meeting. The remaining two districts would be up for election in 2018.