In response to local concerns by residents regarding the diversity of a local task force that will use Census data to redraw city council district borders, Mayor Victor Gordo told Pasadena Now on Wednesday he will ask the City Council to increase the number of seats on the task force.
Every 10 years the City Council is mandated to use population data from the census to determine if any adjustments need to be made to council district boundaries.
Typically, the City Council appoints a Redistricting Task Force to recommend new borders to council districts.
On Monday, the mayor and the city’s seven council members appointed mostly affluent white residents to the task force, which raised some eyebrows among local residents.
“After reviewing the individual councilmember appointments to the Redistricting Task Force, I am recommending that my council colleagues suggest names and support my nomination of three additional at large members to the task force in order to better reflect the diversity of our City,” Gordo said.
“This will ensure all voices are at the table on a matter as important as the redrawing of Council District lines. It will also allow us to move swiftly in order that the Redistricting Task Force may begin its important work immediately.”
It was not immediately known when the matter will appear on the City Council agenda.
“Kudos to Mayor Gordo for not just acknowledging but acting on the need for diversity in the redistricting commission makeup,” said former District 1 City Councilmember Jacque Robinson. “I hope the council follows his lead and agrees to the addition of members.”
Gordo, who initially had two picks, nominated local residents Rita Moreno and Vince Farhat.
Along with Moreno and Farhat, Councilmembers John Kennedy and Felicia Williams appointed former Mayor Terry Tornek and former Councilmember Margaret McAustin, respectively.
In District 1, Councilmember Tyron Hampton appointed David Coher. District 4 Councilmember Gene Masuda appointed Donald C. Nanney. In District 5, Councilmember Jessica Rivas appointed Jordan Vannini, District 6 Councilmember Steve Madison appointed Geoff Baum, and in District 7 Vice Mayor Andy Wilson appointed Francis Chen.
The appointments were made as the city prepares to seat a police oversight commission, which is one of the most diverse commissions in the city.
“Communities of interest are at risk of being left extremely vulnerable in the redistricting process when representation is absent,” said Patrice Marshall McKenzie, who interviewed for a spot on the police oversight commission on Monday.
The redistricting plan must be submitted by Dec. 15. The council must hold at least four public hearings before approving the map.
In 2012, the City Council voted 6-1 to shift the districts slightly, resulting in the exchange of about 1,392 people from one district to another.
It was not yet known how much the lines would be redrawn.
According to information released on Monday, Census data showed the state’s growth slowing dramatically. The slowdown resulted in the loss of one state congressional seat.
The city first drew district lines in 1980, after the city’s election system was changed from citywide runoffs to district only elections. This paved the way for the election of minority candidates and a greater emphasis on neighborhood concerns.
In the 10-year period between 1980 and 1990, the city’s population increased by 11%, becoming more racially and ethnically diverse.
According to the city’s website, during that time the Hispanic population increased to 27.3% of the total city population by 1990.
In 1993, district lines were redrawn based on census data to increase voting opportunities for the city’s growing Latino population, which eventually led to Gordo’s election.
That same year, the name for Pasadena’s elected representatives was officially changed from Board of Directors, a term associated with corporations to the City Council.
Gordo said local residents don’t have to be appointed to have their say on redistricting.
Although Gordo will recommend the task force be expanded, he called on other residents to attend the public meetings during the process.
“All residents are encouraged to actively participate in the redistricting process and make their voices heard by attending public hearings and providing comments to the task force,” Gordo said.