Democratic Party of OC comes out for districting in Anaheim – what could this mean?


Greg just posted this up on the blog last night, and thanks to him, Henry Vandemeir and anyone else who helped make this happen:

Okay, YOU THREE, do the right thing like you promised, and amaze us!

DPOC Calls On The City Of Anaheim To Enact Elections By Single-Member Districts
En Espanol

Santa Ana, CA – 2/21/2013 – The Democratic Party of Orange County (DPOC) calls on Anaheim to enact elections by single-member district for the 2014 election cycle.

In June 2012, Anaheim community leaders and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the City contending that Latinos are effectively shut out of the current electoral process. Currently, council and mayoral elections are conducted through an “at-large” system.

“The DPOC reaffirms the California Democratic Party’s support of single-member district elections in cases where underrepresented groups’ electoral success would be enhanced by the adoption of single-member districts. It is time for the City of Anaheim to settle the lawsuit and place a districting plan on the ballot as soon as possible,” stated DPOC Chair Henry Vandermeir.

Until the November 2012 election, at least three of the five members of the council lived in the eastern part of the city known as “Anaheim Hills.” Moreover, the area of the city west of Euclid Street, known as “West Anaheim” and where more than 125,000 people live, has not had a resident elected to the council since 1998.

2012 DPOC- endorsed candidate and now Councilmember Jordan Brandman, has called for the City to move to single-member districts for the 2014 election cycle.

Vandermeir hopes that, “The entire Anaheim City Council will join Councilmember Brandman and others in calling for single-member district elections and develop a system that promotes equal representation among its residents.”

Note: Because Anaheim is a Charter City, voters must approve any districting plan in order for district elections to be enacted.

Well, first of all, kudos, because this is the right thing for the Democratic Party to do, to be fostering stronger democracy.  As I’ve written many times, this is not really so much about Latinos, although the lawsuit had to be framed that way – it’s about making it 6 or 8 times easier and less expensive for a regular person, Latino or not, someone who knows their neighborhood and will be answerable to it, to become a councilperson in the OC’s biggest city – something that now generally costs $200 grand and results mainly in councilpeople who are loyal servants to the local plutocracy (or occasionally the unions.)

Hopefully this endorsement doesn’t end up making the districting reform seem liberal or partisan, or somehow something that would favor Democrats over other parties, it really shouldn’t.  In fact by all rights the OC GOP should now vote to back it as well – given Mayor Tait’s reputation as “conscience of the OC GOP,” as well as the OC GOP’s election endorsements of stalwart reformist Brian Chuchua, and Lucille Kring who at least claimed at the time she was going to back districting.

I like this tack, of taking Jordan Brandman at his word.  I think that’s at the urging of Los Amigos’ Dr. Jose Moreno, a plaintiff in the suit.  If we take councilwoman Lucille Kring at her word too, we should have a majority of three (c0unting Tait) who should vote to immediately settle this lawsuit and send the reform to Anaheim’s voters.  Lucille told about fifty members of Los Amigos when I dragged her down there on a cool Wednesday morning in January that she would vote to settle the suit and move to six districts plus a Mayor at large – what Tait has proposed since August.  And I will put out of my mind what she told me later privately – she should be kept to her public word, which was also the promise she made to Mayor Tait when he endorsed her.

And of course here’s Jordan, shortly before the election  (promises begin around 4 minutes)  :

Of course taking Jordan and Lucille at their word entails ignoring a lot.  For example:

  • Their joining in the firing of City Attorney Cristina Talley, whose main offense was (reportedly) advising the council that they were in violation of the California Voters Rights Act, and that if they insisted on fighting it, it would be difficult, lengthy and expensive – which it has been;
  • The council majority – with whom Jordan and Lucille still have not been seen to ever disagree – have so far spent over $280,000 fighting the ACLU to NOT have districting (and this is going to grow by the month until this is settled…)
  • The “Citizens’ Advisory Commission” (touted by Jordan above) which has seemed to be a stalling tactic from the members who oppose districting has been meeting regularly and featuring well-paid speakers from all over the country who come touting EVERY MANNER of amazing election ideas that are not districting.  We are still working on finding out how much is being spent on that whole charade, which really needs to be added onto the $280K and whatever fees these hardworking ACLU lawyers are gonna eventually want.

But hope does spring eternal huh?  For now let’s take Jordan and Lucille at their word, and ask them at the next meeting – DEMAND them at the next meeting –  to join the Mayor, end this useless fight, and start moving forward toward a new Anaheim.



About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.