State Sen. Sylvia Garcia on Tuesday joined forces with four Pasadena council members and a community organizing group to mount a campaign against a new redistricting plan they say is designed to dilute the voting strength of Pasadena’s growing Hispanic population.
Garcia called Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell’s proposed plan, which would switch two council districts to at-large positions, a “huge step backwards.” She noted that when the city last year sought pre-clearance for a similar plan from the U.S. Department of Justice that it was soundly rejected as being discriminatory.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent elimination of the pre-clearance requirement should not be seen now as an “open invitation” to attack the minority vote, said Garcia.
Four of the city’s eight council members from the predominantly minority north end of Pasadena, which Garcia’s 6th Senate District covers, echoed that sentiment. They are being assisted in the “Just Vote No” campaign against the proposed charter amendment that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot by Texas Organizing Project, a community organizing group that plans to help get out the vote.
Garcia, who in 2002 defeated Isbell to become a Harris County commissioner, said citywide elections can result in council representatives living on the same street or area rather than being spread across the city.
“This new plan is just retaliation by the mayor who doesn’t like having new independent voices on council,” said Cody Wheeler, one of two Hispanics serving on Pasadena’s council.
See here, here, and here for the background. Good for Sen. Garcia. The best solution to this problem, certainly the cleanest and quickest solution, is for Mayor Isbell’s plan to be defeated by the voters. That’ll keep the lawyers out of it, and it will ensure no harm is done before the courts have a chance to intervene. The only other elections going on in Pasadena in November will be the constitutional referenda and the Astrodome proposal. Get out the vote and kill this thing dead while you still can.