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Community organizations release ‘People’s Map’ amid growing concern of partisanship in Orange County

By ONME Newswire


Garden Grove, CA -- Amidst growing concerns of partisanship in the redrawing of Orange County Board of Supervisors legislative districts, a coalition of community organizations working to engage low-income people of color in the process released its proposed map, reflecting months of community input. A coalition of 17 groups, the People’s Redistricting Alliance has been meeting since January to educate, mobilize, and create maps that promote greater responsiveness to community needs, like access to healthcare and affordable housing.


The Alliance includes the ACLU of Southern California, AHRI Center, Arab American Civic Council, California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Latino Health Access, Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Orange County Civic Engagement Table, Orange County Congregation Community Organization, Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development, Orange County Environmental Justice, Orange County Voter Information Project, Pacific Islander Health Partnership, Resilience Orange County, South Asian Network, and VietRISE.


“This is the people’s map,” said Jonathan Paik, Brea resident and executive director of the Orange County Civic Engagement Table (OCCET), which has been convening the Alliance. “Communities across Orange County worked together to draw the most representative maps possible, ensuring that every community member in Orange County will be properly represented.”


The Board will be required to follow federal and state law prohibiting both racial discrimination and partisanship or risk litigation. An analysis of official redistricting data released by the Statewide Database at UC, Berkeley in September and other data confirms that the federal Voting Rights Act requires the County to draw a supervisorial district around cohesive Latinx communities in Santa Ana and surrounding areas. Adopted in 2019, California State Assembly Bill 849, known as the Fair Maps Act, demands that districts be drawn without consideration of partisan politics.


“Federal law mandates that the County draw a VRA district where the Latinx community has the opportunity to elect a candidate of choice,” said Julia Gomez, staff attorney with the ACLU of Southern California and member of the Alliance. “Partisanship is also now against the law, which means that the County cannot use the VRA district as a pretext to strengthen the influence of one party or to limit Latinx influence in other districts.”


In the face of tremendous demographic change over the past 30 years, conservative political actors in Orange County have used redistricting to disenfranchise new, disproportionately immigrant residents. According to a 2011 article in the Voice of OC, the Republican Party of Orange County worked with incumbents during the last redistricting process to draw maps that protected the party’s interests, primarily by pitting Latinx and Vietnamese American residents against each other (Voice of OC, August 24, 2011). With Republicans holding a majority on the Board, community organizations in the Alliance are increasingly concerned about partisan gerrymandering again this year.


“We have been working diligently with so many communities across the county to develop our map”, said Mary Anne Foo, executive director at the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance and member of the Alliance. “Community voices will be erased if a partisan map is being drawn behind closed doors.”


The Board of Supervisors will hold two more public hearings on redistricting, Nov. 16 at 10:00 AM and Dec. 7 at 10:00 AM; they expect to finalize new district boundaries by Dec. 15.


The Alliance map can be found online at the PRA website peoplesredistricting.org.


Members of the public wishing to support the map are encouraged to email the Board by following links at PRA's website. The public is also encouraged to attend public hearings in November during which the Board will discuss and decide on which maps to adopt. For more information on those hearings, please email redistricting@occivic.org.



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