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City Council Redistricting

July 14, 1986

The Los Angeles City redistricting plan I recently proposed is not an attempt to undermine my colleague Mike Woo or to squelch the voice of the Asian community as indicated in your editorial (July 10), "Get Out the Erasers."

The irony is that my plan specifically responds to the requests of Chinese-Americans that their voting strength be consolidated in a single councilmanic district, thus giving Councilman Woo the opportunity of representing twice as many Chinese and a substantially larger number of Asians than he does at the present time.

The further irony is that Woo's own redistricting plan fragments Asian voting between a number of districts, which would reduce the ability of the Asian community to elect people to the council in the future who represent their interests.

And here lies the crux of the matter. The Voting Rights Act, in the present case, relates to improving the voting power of minorities within political boundaries to elect officials to represent their interests. The act has nothing to do with the race of those representatives. This being the case, Councilman Woo is way off base in his attempt to exploit the Voting Rights Act to protect his seat on the council.

Whether Councilman Woo can be elected depends on his ability to convince a majority of voters (Latino, Asian, white or black) in his district that he can and will fairly represent them. I would not presume, as does your editorial, to suggest that my able colleague is incapable of doing so and I have not heard any citizen of any race claim that an Asian, by nature of his race, cannot represent them. That kind of race-bound thinking is not part of the civic life of this city. Certainly our black mayor has done an able job of representing this city, which is only 17% black.

It is and was my job as chairman of the Charter and Elections Committee to come up with a plan that is sensitive to the concerns of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, to the U.S. Department of Justice and to the courts while at the same time developing one that is palatable to a majority of members on the council. I believe that my plan, which is a delicate balance of many geographical, legal and ethnic factors, will, when carefully examined, serve as a plan that all groups in Los Angeles can live with harmoniously.

RICHARD ALATORRE

Councilman

14th District

Los Angeles

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