Redwood City Council meeting roundup for April 8, 2019

Latino group decries lack of representation in Redwood City district election map

in Featured/Headline

An infuriated Latino community is planning a rally Monday to protest the adoption by the Redwood City Council of a new set of seven council districts that creates only one Latino-majority district.

Latino Focus, a Redwood City-based group of Latino community and business leaders, issued a news release this morning about the planned rally. The group says it is also contemplating legal steps to block the new districts.

Group spokesman Alberto Garcia said the city would ideally have two majority-minority districts.

“There are so many issues facing the city – displacement, income inequality, educational issues and as an organization we really want to hold the council responsible to create an attitude of inclusivity,” Garcia said.

The creation of districts was prompted by the threat of a lawsuit asserting that the city’s at-large elections were systematically disenfranchising Latino voters and denying them fuller and more adequate representation on the Council.

Under the title “SOY,” which is Spanish for “I am” and also is being used as the acronym “Shame On You,” Latino leaders are calling for a protest rally outside Redwood City Hall at 6 p.m. Monday, prior to the 7 p.m. council meeting at which point the district map is scheduled for a second and final vote of approval.

By a 4-3 vote, the council gave preliminary approval to the new districts at its March 11 meeting. Voting for the new districts were Mayor Ian Bain and Council members Janet Borgens, Diane Howard and Diana Reddy. Voting no were Alicia Aguirre, Giselle Hale and Shelly Masur.

The decision since has been embroiled in controversy and accusations the Council could have created at least one more Latino-majority district and that they were too focused on making sure that the current Council members would not have to face off against one another in the same district.

Latino Focus claims council “ignored our repeated pleas to create two majority-Latino districts” and “eliminated two coalition districts,” which would have had a majority of non-white residents.

“Their whole attitude was very reactive and defensive as opposed to being more open and receptive to becoming more inclusive,” Garcia said. “Creating more inclusivity and diversity is a win-win for all of us.”

There also have been complaints that the Council failed to create a single district out of the Redwood Shores neighborhood, which lies north and east of the city, is physically disconnected from the rest of the city, is actually closer to Belmont and has a high percentage of Asian-American residents.

Comment is being sought from council. Check back for updates.

This is the second recent issue where Latino population has felt shafted by local leaders. Parents say the Redwood City School District’s reorganization plan to solve its budget deficit has fallen heaviest on the Latino community. A parent-driven campaign has included 130 letters signed and mailed to local legislators.