Despite heated debate over how Los Angeles County’s supervisorial districts should change under redistricting, the Board of Supervisors voted to essentially keep the status quo in place. A majority of the county’s officials rejected the creation of a second Latino-majority district, which Latino activists and Supervisor Gloria Molina were pushing for to increase the influence of Latino voters in the county, as they argued a second district would reflect the demographic realities of L.A. County. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas originally voiced support for Molina’s proposal, but ended up voting for Supervisor Don Knabe’s plan, which centered on preserving the current districts. Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Michael D. Antonovich were also in favor of this plan. The question now is whether or not the vote will lead to a costly legal battle. The LA Times reports:
“Latino activists are expected to accuse the supervisors of protecting white incumbents at the expense of the voting rights of Latinos. They and Supervisor Gloria Molina argue that the county is repeating mistakes of the past. Two decades ago, federal courts sided with Latino activists and found white county supervisors for decades had systematically split growing Latino neighborhoods to protect incumbents and prevent the emergence of a Latino challenger. The voting rights lawsuit cost $14 million and the county was forced to adopt new maps, which led to the election of Molina. She was the first nonwhite supervisor elected to the board since the late19th century.”
Ridley-Thomas didn’t deny the vote would lead to a legal dispute, but stated his decision against the second Latino district was mostly because he wanted to avoid a deadlock, which would mean the outcome would lie with other countywide elected officials, namely Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, Sheriff Lee Baca and Assessor John R. Noguez. We relayed recently that Asian American groups entered the fray by arguing against another Latino majority district, as they feel Asians benefit when no one racial or ethnic group has a dominant majority.