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Upland’s decision on voting districts moving forward

By in Press Enterprise on October 31, 2017

By Liset Marquez

UPLAND >> Earlier this month city leaders here took steps that could make it more likely for a Latino to be elected to the City Council.

Upland abandoned at-large voting last year and instead divided the city into voting districts after a 2015 lawsuit alleged the city violated the California Voting Rights Act.

In Upland, 38 percent of the population is Latino, but a Latino has never served on the council. The suit claimed that is a result of polarized voting, in which the Latino vote is diluted among multiple candidates.

Following a settlement, Upland agreed to have voting districts for the 2018 and 2020 elections.

On Oct. 23, a majority of the council voted to place districts 2, 3 and 4 on the November 2018 ballot. District 1, the mayor’s seat and city treasurer would be placed on the 2020 ballot.

That selection was met with disapproval by Councilwoman Janice Elliott who said it will have a disproportionate impact on her future on the dais.

City Attorney Jim Markman explained at the Oct. 23 meeting that wasn’t the intention.

“We were looking for a way to avoid inevitably forcing any member of the council to sit out two years because of the way it is sequenced,” he said.

The map selected by the council, and popular among residents, uses San Antonio Avenue as the division between east and west in the northern portion of the city, with the remaining two districts south of Foothill Boulevard. The southern districts have the largest population of Latinos.

To satisfy the legal requirement of the settlement, the district with the highest percentage of Latinos of voting age must go in the 2018 election, Markman said.

For Upland, that is District 4, which doesn’t have a current council member living in the boundaries.

The new boundaries have created a predicament in […]    

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