Latinos And Election Of Council Members By District
A long piece by Jill Cowan in the Daily Pilot Saturday afternoon titled, "At-large voting: Latino handicap?", HERE, will certainly generate some interesting discussion in Costa Mesa political circles.
CHANGE IN STATE LAW?
A bill proposed by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, would force all General Law cities with populations over 100,000 to elect council members by district. In my view, this is a major over-reach by the State government. If the objective is to provide more "representation" to our large Latino community, perhaps it should begin by getting out their votes. History shows us that the large mostly-Westside population of Latinos seldom turn out at the polls, nor do they put forward candidates for commissions or committees.
If the goal is to have each geographic area of the city "represented", we don't need this new law to do it. Wendy Leece, Eric Bever and Allan Mansoor have represented the Westside in recent years.
However, if the Hernandez bill is an attempt to guarantee that one particular ethnic group is "represented", then perhaps we need a law that requires EVERY ethnic group have proportional representation on the City Council. Of course, I offer that as an example of the absurd...
While I agree that we have seen few Latinos run for office - Cowan mentions Mirna Burciaga's failed campaign a few years back - simply forcing the city to elect council members by district would not necessarily result in more Latinos participating in the process.
PANDERING TO RADICALS
I began paying attention to local politics about the time Chris Steel and Allan Mansoor were elected. Mansoor became the darling of the far right radicals among us. He was named an honorary Minuteman, for goodness sake. He is notorious for tossing Benito Acosta out of a council meeting and having him arrested after cutting short his time at the speaker's podium. We are STILL paying legal fees on the lawsuit that resulted from his hasty, ill-advised act. During his tenure, with the urging of current councilman Gary Monahan, the Job Center was shuttered, forcing day laborers back onto street corners - and it generated even more legal problems.
THE MOUTH FROM MESA NORTH
For most of the last decade a big part of the political agenda in Costa Mesa was driven by the persistent drumbeat of one racist individual, who took credit for both getting Steel elected and then, later, rejected by the voters. He crows about getting Paularino Park - in his Mesa North neighborhood - turned into a passive park, forcing mostly Latino soccer players to find another venue for their after work exercise. Fortunately, that campaign stopped right there. Although that person continues to spew racist views from his blog and elsewhere online, his influence in the city has diminished - a good thing for all of us.
I DON'T necessarily have a problem with Costa Mesa council members being elected by district. But the votes should be limited to residents within each district, not at-large, the way it's done in Newport Beach. Candidate Lee Ramos, (shown here with his campaign manager, Dennis Popp) quoted in Cowan's article, seems concerned that by doing so we might "limit the talent we have in the city." Of course, since he's part of the cabal controlled by country club cronies Mayor Jim Righeimer and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger, having been appointed to two very influential committees by them, I'm not surprised at his reaction. If we were electing council members by district today he might be running against Monahan, who has shown to be virtually unbeatable each time he ran.
...THE STATE SHOULD BUTT OUT!
I DO have a problem with the State TELLING us how we must elect our council members. Because of the strong liberal orientation in Sacramento, I won't be surprised if the bill proposed by Hernandez passes. What I also have a problem with is that this bill will only add fuel to the fire for those in the community advocating a change to a Charter form of government. Considering how the current council majority plays fast and loose with the existing rules, I shudder to thing of the damage they could do under a Charter form of government.
SHOULD BE INTERESTING
It's going to be interesting to 1) see what kind of discussion Cowan's article generates in the community and, 2) whether the bill Hernandez initiated gets passed by the state legislature. It's an election year and his seat is up...