As a federal judge on Thursday began considering a new political map for Los Angeles County, Sarah Flores made a final appeal to the judge to preserve her campaign to become the first Latino on the Board of Supervisors.
A day after he rejected a redistricting plan drawn by the board's conservative majority, U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon listened to testimony from the architects of three maps submitted by the plantiffs in the voting rights case. Kenyon did not say when he would decide on a new plan.
The judge said he will hold his final hearing in the two-year-old case today, taking arguments on whether he should call off a November runoff between Flores and Gregory O'Brien and order a new primary election in a redrawn 1st district, as requested by plaintiffs in the voting rights case.
Kenyon on June 4 ruled that the supervisors intentionally discriminated against Latinos in drawing district boundaries in 1981. On Wednesday, he rejected a new map submitted by the supervisors as a "nonsensical distortion" of supervisorial districts that is "insensitive" to the voting rights of blacks and Latinos. The county is appealing.
During Thursday's hearing, plaintiffs' experts Bernard Grofman, a UC Irvine political scientist, and Leobardo Estrada, a UCLA professor of urban planning, testified that the plaintiffs' three maps offer an equal opportunity for a Latino to win a seat on the powerful five-member board.
The maps-which are similar-would carve out a predominantly Latino district bearing the designation of retiring Supervisor Pete Schabarum's 1st district. The new 1st district would stretch from El Sereno and Lincoln Heights through downtown Los Angeles east to Irwindale and La Puente and southeast to Santa Fe Springs.
The differences in the maps is how they affect the other four supervisors and the two candidates running to succeed Schabarum. The plans also would jeopardize the board's conservative majority while changing the political representation for many of the county's 8 1/2 million residents.
Attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department, a plaintiff, recommended that Kenyon approve a plan which includes the Glendora homes of Flores and O'Brien in the new 1st district.
Flores, the top vote-getter in the June primary with 35% of the vote, made a final appeal to Kenyon in court to reject all three plaintiffs' maps and instead approve a plan proposed last year by the Justice Department, which would make Supervisor Ed Edelman's 3rd district the new Latino district.
That, she told the judge, would create an opportunity for two Latinos to be elected to the board--her and a Latino from Edelman's district. Under this plan, Edelman's Westwood home would be placed in Supervisor Deane Dana's 4th district and the new 3rd district would be without an incumbent.
Flores' attorney Thomas Bourke told the judge that making Schabarum's district the Latino district would force Flores into a "fratricidal battle with other Hispanics." Bourke complained that the plaintiffs' maps protect incumbent supervisors who "have been found by this court to be wrongdoers."
Outside the courtroom Flores, a Republican backed by two of the board's conservatives, questioned "whether plaintiffs are promoting the agenda of Hispanics or the (liberal) politics of the ACLU."