Anaheim city politicians walked back their support Tuesday for a map outlining the city's new voting districts for future council members.
The city council in October had given preliminary approval to the so-called "People's Map," a six-district map which was drawn by an Anaheim Latino resident and recommended by a panel of appointed retired judges.
The city agreed to move to a district-based election system for city council members after a lawsuit by Latino residents alleged the current city wide system excluded them from meaningful representation in politics. The mayor will continue to be elected in a citywide election.
But disagreements over how many majority Latino districts the city should have has delayed finalizing a map.
The People's Map, widely supported by Latino community activists, contains only one majority Latino voting district--but two additional districts where Latinos have the plurality of voters.
Latino community activists believe that arrangement would give minorities the best hope of gaining political control on a city council that's been long dominated by mostly white politicians living in mostly affluent parts of the city.
"We wanted three out of the six districts in order to have a chance to make something happen. We need three in order to play," said Ada Briceno, executive director of the Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development.
Instead of approving that map, the Anaheim City Council on Tuesday in a 3 to 2 vote announced a series of new community meetings beginning in late January to consider alternative maps and evaluate new Census figures due next month.
The council is aiming instead for two majority Latino districts.
Anaheim City Councilman Jordan Brandman said he believes that's the only way to ensure a Latino majority district is available in each election cycle. That's despite the panel of judges recommending, with the help of a redistricting expert, a map with just one Latino majority district.
"The retired panel of judges should have given this council a map with two majority Latino seats," he said. "I think they attempted to do so at several of the meetings and some of the community input that they received led them in a direction to overlook that."
The audience at the council meeting Tuesday evening was livid, said Briceno.
“Every person who spoke, his or her words were wiped out with that vote,” she said.
Briceno vowed to fight to keep the map in place that would give Latino communities a chance to elect three council candidates of their choice.
Anaheim must choose a district-based map in July to hold elections in November.