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Supervisor District to Get Latino Majority : Representation: Flynn supports the boundary changes. A coalition seeks to preserve minority voting strength in other communities.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ventura County officials said Wednesday that they want to redraw the boundaries of Supervisor John K. Flynn’s district to create the first district in the county with a majority of Latino voters.

Flynn, whose district includes Oxnard and nearby unincorporated beach areas, said he supports boundary changes that will strengthen the voting power of Latinos.

“No one should be dissatisfied with what we end up with,” he said.

Latinos make up 48% of the voting-age population in Flynn’s 5th District with Anglos making up 39% and blacks about 5%. He said he hopes that the boundary changes will increase the Latino population to 51%.

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Meanwhile, a coalition of Latino advocates plans to lobby the supervisors to adopt other boundary changes to maintain minority voting strength in several Latino communities in the county.

“We would support anything that would not dilute the ability of those people to get equal representation,” said Andres Herrera, chairman of the Ventura County Coalition for Redistricting and Reapportionment.

He said the group is considering drafting its own plans for changing district boundaries.

The Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday to discuss five alternatives for boundary changes prepared by county staff. The supervisors are not expected to adopt a new set of boundaries until a second meeting Sept. 10.

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By law, the county must adjust the supervisorial boundaries after each national census so that districts will be about equal in population. The new boundaries must be adopted by Nov. 1.

County supervisors voluntarily adjusted their boundaries in 1986 in response to disproportionate population growth in the eastern segment of the county.

In adopting the new boundaries, the supervisors are required to consider topography, geography, compactness of territories and communities of interest. The supervisors are also required to adjust the districts to maintain the voting strength of an ethnic minority.

Latino-rights advocates say that fragmenting Latino communities dilutes voting strength and makes it tougher for Latinos to get elected to public office. Ventura County has not had a Latino supervisor in at least half a century, Herrera said.

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Census figures show that 26.5% of Ventura County residents are Latino and that 44% of those Latinos live in Oxnard, the heart of Flynn’s district.

The number of Latino residents in Flynn’s district was boosted in 1986 when the supervisors adjusted the

boundaries to include about 20,000 residents of La Colonia, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in east Oxnard.

But because the population in that district has grown by more than 15% over the past five years, the supervisors must now reduce its size by as many as 8,262 residents, so that all five districts will be about equal, a county report said.

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To shrink Flynn’s district and at the same time increase the percentage of Latino voters, the supervisors must transfer an area that includes mostly white voters out of Flynn’s district, county officials said.

“I have got to jettison some population,” Flynn said. “By doing that, my district will have an even stronger Hispanic vote.”

Flynn declined to say which area of his district would be eliminated.

Herrera, a former Flynn aide, said he was not aware of Flynn’s efforts to increase Latino voting strength in his district.

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But he said the Coalition on Redistricting and Reapportionment is considering its own plan for district boundary changes that will not split Latino communities in Saticoy, Santa Paula, Fillmore and Piru, as well as Oxnard.


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