Los Angeles elected officials have appointed an ethnically diverse mix of community activists, business leaders, lobbyists and government insiders to the city Redistricting Commission, which is expected to begin meeting next month to redraw the boundaries for City Council districts.
The 20-person panel, appointed by the mayor and other elected officials, includes former Police Commission President Dan Garcia, City Hall lobbyist Steven Afriat, Valley VOTE Chairman Richard Close and Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, or NALEO.
Its task is to use the latest U.S. census data to recommend new district boundaries to the City Council by March 1.
Its challenge is to create districts that reflect demographic shifts, including an increase in the Latino population, without upsetting the council members currently in power or ethnic groups that might feel their power is being eroded.
"If they are fair-minded about it, everything will be reasonably OK," Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas said. "If not, there will be a court battle."
Ridley-Thomas is particularly concerned by talk that the creation of a seat where Latinos have a good chance of being elected would come at the expense of African Americans. Currently, African Americans hold three council seats.
The redistricting commission includes five Latinos and seven African Americans.
Further complicating the commission's job is the desire of council President Alex Padilla and others to create a fifth district completely in the San Fernando Valley.
Mayor James K. Hahn appoints three commissioners, while the council president appoints two. All other elected city officials make one appointment each.
Hahn's appointees are Marsha L. Brown, president of Fu-Gen Inc. and chapter vice chairwoman of the Black American Political Assn.; Gary Park, an attorney and senior associate of Barbosa Garcia LLP; and Irene Tovar, head of the Latin American Civic Assn., which provides social services in the northeast San Fernando Valley.
Padilla named Vargas, the head of NALEO, and Robert Winn, a retired vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 770 and former first vice president of the San Fernando Valley branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.
City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo appointed Garcia, an attorney who also has served as president of the city Planning Commission.
City Controller Laura Chick appointed Tyree Wieder, president of Valley College.
Councilwoman Ruth Galanter appointed lobbyist and political consultant Afriat, and Councilman Joel Wachs named Close, head of the Valley secession group.
Ridley-Thomas appointed Anthony Thigpenn, chairman of the public policy group AGENDA, or Action for Grass-roots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives.
Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski appointed John Emerson, a former White House staff member.
Councilman Eric Garcetti appointed Daniel Weiss, managing partner of the Angeleno Group, a private equity firm.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn appointed Timothy Watkins, president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, a nonprofit housing and community development group.
Councilman Nate Holden appointed businesswoman Jackie Dupont-Walker.
Councilman Nick Pacheco appointed Nilza Serrano, president of the Media Shop, a television production firm.
Councilwoman Jan Perry appointed Juanita Tate, executive director of Concerned Citizens of South-Central.
Councilman Ed Reyes appointed Irma Rodriguez, a private consultant who specializes in demographics and urban planning.
Councilman Jack Weiss appointed Ronald Turovsky, an attorney with the law firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.
Councilman Dennis Zine appointed Patricia Cook, an employee of Pierce College and former director of the Woodland Hills Homeowners Assn.
Councilman Hal Bernson has not yet made an appointment.
The commission is to begin meeting in October, when it will choose its leadership and begin hiring staff.
After receiving the commission's recommendations, the City Council has until June 30 to adopt a final redistricting plan.