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Anaheim residents: We are tired of being marginalized

July 31, 2012 |  6:37 pm

Anaheim
Community members Tuesday called on the Anaheim City Council  to  address the lack of elected Latino representation by moving to a district-style election system instead of the current at-large process.

The press conference was held after a week of protests – some which turned violent – after two men were fatally shot by police officers.

The rallies have highlighted tensions in the city, which some say are the result of a community that feels marginalized. 

The City Council is considering a Nov. 6 ballot measure to amend the voting process. It would require that four members of the five-member council be elected by district. Currently, the majority of the council members live in Anaheim Hills, an affluent enclave that is largely separated from the rest of the city.

According to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in  June, the current at-large system has resulted in “vote dilution” for Latino residents.

Though Anaheim’s population is majority Latino, the city council has only seen three Latino members in city history, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also references a “history of discrimination in the city that still impacts the Latino community.” 

Community members, some wearing neon pink stickers that said “four districts are not enough,” talked about neighborhood disparities, a lack of resources in minority neighborhoods and low-paying jobs in the city's manicured resort district.

Mariana Rivera, 33, has lived in the neighborhood where one of the shootings took place for nine years.

She said many children play in the streets, but some drivers speed through the neighborhood, so she has been working to try to get speed bumps installed for years.

“We want our community to be tranquil and clean,” she said.

Eric Altman, the executive director of a nonprofit that works with neighborhoods in the area, said that the districts should not be drawn by the City Council, but rather by an independent panel.

“We don’t put our civil rights to a popular vote,” he said.

Altman said that Anaheim was the largest city in California to elect its council at large. Anaheim is the most populated city in Orange County and among the top 10 in the state.

“At-large works when you’re a small, homogenous city,” he said. “But when you get to a certain size and a certain level of complexity and diversity … you have to go to district elections. There’s no other way to get representation.”

In response to recent events, Mayor Tom Tait and City Council members will conduct a special meeting Aug. 8 at Anaheim High School.

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--Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Protesters walk by the smashed windows of a Starbucks after violence erupted between police officers and protesters in Anaheim.Credit: Getty Images  

 

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