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Asians, Latinos Join in Proposal for Remapping

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Asian-American and Latino community leaders are proposing a redistricting plan for the West San Gabriel Valley that they say will give a greater voice to Asian-American voters without breaking up Latino political strongholds.

The compromise plan, unveiled Friday in Monterey Park, would redraw state Assembly district boundaries so that four cities with sizable Asian populations--Alhambra, Monterey Park, Rosemead and San Gabriel--are consolidated in the 59th Assembly District.

The four cities currently are divided among the 42nd, 59th and 60th districts, an arrangement that activists say weakens the Asian community’s political clout.

The coalition includes representatives of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, as well as local politicians. Those involved say it is the first time Asian-Americans have participated in state redistricting.

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The proposed new district would be 28% Asian--the largest concentration in a Southern California Assembly district--but retain a 55% Latino majority. The seat is held by a Latino, Xavier Becerra (D-Montebello).

The change would mean a greater percentage of Latinos in Democratic Assemblywoman Sally Tanner’s 60th District, but no significant ethnic change in Republican Richard Mountjoy’s 42nd District, advocates of the plan said.

Initially, Asian leaders hoped to include more Asians, possibly in the cities of San Marino and Arcadia. “There could have been a higher (Asian percentage) but that could jeopardize the majority Latino district, which would be illegal,” said Stewart Kwoh, executive director of the Asian-American legal center. The U.S. Voting Rights Act prohibits diluting the voting strength of ethnic minorities.

Both Asian-American and Latino groups have submitted the plan to the Assembly, which is in the process of redrawing legislative and congressional district lines using 1990 census data.

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