LAST YEAR, voters passed Proposition 11, the California Voters FIRST Act, which calls for the creation of a new Citizens Redistricting Commission. This commission composed of 14 members will be responsible for re-drawing the district lines for the Assembly, Senate and State Equalization Board.
In response to this, The Greenlining Institute is working to ensure that the Citizens Redistricting Commission reflects the diversity found throughout California through their new initiative, Line Up California!
One of the most powerful tools available, redistricting or re-drawing electoral districts can empower or disempower communities of color. During the Civil Rights struggle, redistricting was often used to split communities of color in order to dilute their voting power. California is already composed of 60 percent people of color, and will grow larger and more diverse over the next decade. It is then imperative that all communities have a voice in drawing electoral districts.
The need to empower and represent the Fil-Am community
Filipino-American community and political leaders believe that this is a vital and critical step to the recognition and empowerment of all Fil-Ams in California. In the Bay Area alone, Fil-Ams constitute over 550,00 to 600,00 of the total Asian American population.
“The commission is late to be formed by timely nonetheless, said San Mateo County Commissioner Fel Amistad and added, “It is needed to ensure that a correct and proper tally of representative government officials and elected leaders can be accounted for and made.”
Steve Arevalo, Political Director of the Filipino American Democratic Caucus believes that the commission will make significant recommendations on how political resources will be allocated in the State.
“We must be very vigilant and build coalitions with other communities and organizations to ensure our community’s political interests are preserved,” said Arevalo. He also believes that there is an urgent need to educate the community.
“Redistricting is a process where the average citizen has limited or no knowledge how these political districts are organized,” Arevalo explained. “We need to educate our community in regards to redistricting. We need to identify those assembly and make the difference in an election.”
Amistad explained that the commission needs to account for our lack of political appointments to various government positions.
He further noted that Fil-Ams need to step up and be counted. “Fil-Am candidates do not get elected because the powers that be do not recognize our real numbers and so we are slighted and overlooked. We are taken for granted many times.”