On August 3, 2016 the La Mirada City Council was served with a demand letter from MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund) stating the city was in violation of the California Voter Rights Act and had to change from an at-large election system to a by-district election system. This meant that instead of the entire city being able to vote for their council members only people living in a particular district could vote for candidates running in that specific district. Whereas people could vote for up to two or three candidates they could now only vote for one and that candidate had to be running in their district. Additionally, you would now only vote once every four years instead of every two years.
At the September 13 council meeting, four of the council members voted to approve a settlement agreement with MALDEF. The settlement agreement stated that La Mirada would go to district elections by the March 2017 election and that the city agreed to pay MALDEF $30,000 to settle the suit. I was the only council member to vote against this settlement agreement because I felt it was not in the best interest of our city.
After the settlement agreement was approved the council scheduled three public hearings to gather input as to which district map the city should select. There were a total of 12 maps submitted through the entire process. MALDEF submitted a map as well which actually received the most public support during the entire process because it happened to be the most fairly drawn map. Another map that received some support was that of Zurich Lewis, who serves on the Cerritos College Board of Trustees and whose father just happens to be running for council this coming election. It was pointed out several times that Zurich’s map was extremely gerrymandered to allow his father to run in an open district while eliminating one of the current council members as Pauline Deal and myself would have to run in the same district.
Three days before the third and final hearing Map #12 magically showed up for consideration as it was never introduced in the prior two meetings. Map #12 happened to be a slightly modified Zurich map. At the council meeting on November 8th, I spoke out against Map #12 for a variety of reasons. I felt it was poorly drawn map that gerrymandered the city in favor of Zurich’s father. Mind you the council had supposedly not spoken to each other about any of these maps both in private and certainly not in public. Yet magically, as if they had all agreed on Map #12 from the very beginning each council member spoke as to why they favored it. Several even had the audacity to state how much they disliked MALDEF and would not support a map submitted by this organization. Yet they were the ones that voted in favor of going to districts in the first place. Had they felt so strongly about it why did they not vote against MALDEF’s settlement agreement as I did? As they spoke I refuted each one of their arguments, but it became very clear to me. The Good Ol’ Boys in La Mirada had been planning for some time to run John Lewis, Zurich’s father, as a candidate to defeat me, while thinking that Counilwoman Deal was unbeatable in La Mirada. The worst part is that they did not even bother to hide their scheming and showed to everyone that actually paid attention what their plan was all along.
So the vote went as expected, 4-1 in favor of Zurich’s map, the map that would allow the Good Ol’ Boys to gain 100% control of the city again. For those of you interested in learning more, I would suggest watching the November 8th council meeting and judging for yourself what took place. As for me, my promise has always been and continues to be that I will fight to do what is best for the residents of La Mirada. This new chapter in our city’s history does bring new possibilities of growth and positive change; however, I fear that will not come with our current leadership.