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Battle lines harden as officials debate supervisor redistricting

Photo: (from left) Don Knabe, Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times Battle lines hardened at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration Tuesday over a controversial plan to create a new district that could result in the election of a second Latino supervisor.

City officials from across Los Angeles County made the trek to downtown to speak in favor of their supervisors' plans, illustrating the deep ties supervisors have had with city officials. Many officials echoed the supervisors' talking points.

A status quo plan, proposed by Supervisor Don Knabe, would keep all districts largely intact. Supervisor Gloria Molina's proposal would effectively take Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky out of his Westside and San Fernando Valley district, while Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' proposal would move Knabe out of his curving South Bay and southeast LA County district.

Interactive maps: See how the plans compare

Downey Councilman Mario A. Guerra backed Knabe, the white supervisor who represents his southeast Los Angeles County city, and criticized the plan for a second Latino-majority district. "I am an elected official in a community with over 70% Latinos. I'm insulted that anybody would suggest that in our particular city that we vote by the color of the skin or somebody's surname," Guerra said.

Mayor John Sibert of Malibu urged support for a status quo plan, supporting Yaroslavsky, a liberal white Democrat. Sibert recalled a time before 1991 when Malibu was represented by a conservative Republican supervisor, Deane Dana, from the South Bay. He said Malibu had no voice at that time, and he feared Malibu would be subservient to the South Bay and Long Beach under one of the plans to create a second Latino-majority district.

"We were an appendage on the end of a long district that included the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. We had no voice," Sibert said. "We have worked very  well in the last 20 years" under Yaroslavsky, he said.

El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero urged the supervisors to back the plan for a second Latino-majority district. "Twenty years ago it took a court case to create a district that we now have that represents us, Gloria Molina. This is one of the last legacy issues where you can create a district that ... gives Latinos an opportunity for another position here on the Board of Supervisors," Quintero said. "Please think beyond your terms.... That legacy of 20 years ago was a black mark. You have a chance to change that."

Lynwood Mayor Aide Castro backed her representative, Ridley-Thomas, who is African American and has proposed an alternative plan for a second Latino-majority district. Without a change in the drawing of the supervisorial districts, "Latino voting power will be deliberately [lessened] ... and that is unacceptable," Castro said. She voiced assurance that her argument would win should a federal lawsuit be filed: "It will certainly be self-evident when we win in a court of law."

Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Thomas D. Long also referred to legacy in backing Knabe's position to keep the status quo. He said people will look back on this decision and ask, "Was service to the residents put first or some other political goal put first? ... We must all represents each other, regardless of race."

RELATED:

Packed house at Tuesday's supervisors meeting

Supervisors weigh creating new Latino district

L.A. politicians will still have final say over local districts

-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Photos: Don Knabe, Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, from left. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

 
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