Seferino Garcia makes his point during an Anaheim City Council forum on… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
Anaheim residents said they are disappointed but not defeated by the rejection of a ballot proposal that would have created voting districts to increase Latino representation in Orange County's largest city.
"We need to do it sooner rather than later," lifelong Anaheim resident Veronica Rodarte said.
The City Council's decision Wednesday to establish a committee to study elections and voter registration means there is little chance the measure can be placed on the November ballot. Rodarte said residents can explore other options such as a City Council recall or supporting the recently filed ACLU civil rights lawsuit that asks the court to order Anaheim to create council districts.
"If a recall is necessary for it to happen, then a recall it will be," she said.
The failed proposal, which was backed by Disneyland Resort among others, would have allowed voters to decide whether to create six council districts in the city, with the mayor being elected by voters citywide.
Anaheim is the largest city in California that still elects leaders at large. An analysis by The Times shows Anaheim is a deeply segregated city with much of its political power concentrated in its eastern hillside neighborhoods, which are majority white. Overall, however, the city is 52% Latino.
The push for the ballot measure gained momentum after a series of heated protests following the fatal police shootings last month of two Latino men.
Aleem Bilwani of West Anaheim said he is skeptical of a committee appointed by the City Council. He said he thinks the council is attempting to buy time but predicts that change is inevitable.
"We really have to think about it and get together and make some noise," he said.
In the meantime, Joanne Sosa with Take Back Anaheim said she is organizing a march and sit-in.
"We are going to move forward," she said. "The organizations are going to come together to be a voice, to be a voice for change."
Councilwoman Kris Murray, who voted against putting the ballot measure on the November ballot, said that citizens need to keep in mind that the council did not say no to redistricting.
"If we disagree at all, it's just on the end process on how to get there," she said.
Karyn Schonherz, a president of a neighborhood community council in Anaheim Hills, agrees.
"I think it was a smart move rather than making a hasty decision," she said.
But she also expressed frustration at the depiction of Anaheim Hills as a detached colony that enjoys benefits that other parts of the city don't have.
"They don't remember when Anaheim Hills had zero representation on the council," she said. "We fought just as long and hard as they have to get what we have."