Members of SBCTC Affiliates Demand Escondido Change to District-Based Elections

December 8, 2011 - Members of SBCTC affiliates in the City of Escondido demanded on Wednesday that the City Council end its discriminatory at-large election process, and change instead to district based-elections that would enable Latino neighborhoods, now excluded from City Council decisions that affect them, to have a voice.

The demand, submitted to the city council by Latino workers affiliated with Laborers and the UA, states that the current system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 and the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibit the use of at-large methods of election that result in the denial or abridgement of a protected class’s right to vote.  The letter said the City Council’s failure to voluntarily change its discriminatory process would result in legal action to force the change to a district-based system.

“Because of Escondido’s current at-large system, Escondido’s Latino voters are unable to elect City Council candidates of their choice or otherwise influence City Council elections to the extent that they are entitled under federal and state voting rights laws,” the letter states.  Although 49% of Escondido’s population and 27% of its voters are Latino, only one openly Latino candidate has been elected to the City Council in its 123-year history.

“I have lived, worked, and raised my family in this city,” said construction laborer Demetrio Gomez, a construction trades worker and a 40-year resident and voter of Escondido, who called upon the council to change to district elections.  “There are no representatives from our large Latino neighborhoods, and this council is elected by – and caters to – wealthier non-Latinos.”

“The Building Trades fights for the rights of workers,” said SBCTC Legislative Director Cesar Diaz. “Latino Building Trades workers in Escondido are suffering because they are not represented.”

The meeting was attended by 45 members of Construction Laborers Local 89, including Business Manager Val Macedo, along with Cement Masons and Steamfitters, who applauded as the demand was issued.  Mayor Sam Abed reacted by suspending the meeting for five minutes, and when he returned, admonishing spectators not to clap or cheer, saying the council meeting was not a party or a football game.

The letter requests that the City Council take the necessary action at its Dec. 14 meeting.

To view video of this item, visit http://www.escondido.org/city-council-video-library.aspx, then click on the date Dec. 7, 2011, and move forward to Item 3 of 17.

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