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Anaheim measures push for better representation on City Council

July 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Big changes could be coming to the Anaheim City Council. Several measures are on the table in an effort to make sure the council better represents the population of the city.

The changes stem from a rash of violent protests last year after the officer-involved shootings of two Latino men in Anaheim. Protesters found some common ground with those looking for change that would better represent the city's Hispanic population. More than half of Anaheim residents are Latino, but the city council is all white.

On Tuesday night, the council voted to keep the present "at-large" voting system but require council candidates to live in specified districts, which have yet to be drawn up.

Councilmember Kris Murray says for the past 10 years, with the exception of this council, the at-large system has worked.

"We've had 50 percent or higher of a Hispanic or a ethnic minority background represented on our city council," said Murray.

Mayor Tom Tait voted against the measure.

"An at-large system would be similar to the entire population of the U.S. voting for our center here in California. To me, it doesn't make a lot of sense and certainly not close to the people," said Tait.

He favors district voting.

"It means people who live in your district vote for a person who lives in that district," said Tait.

Others in the community would also like to see voting by districts. They say the at-large system doesn't represent them.

"We're missing the areas where the disenfranchised live. We're missing Latinos. Where is the representation?" said Joanne Sosa, a community activist.

The council will ask voters to permanently ratify the at-large system with residency requirements.

The council also voted Tuesday night to let voters decide whether to increase the number of council members from four to six, plus the mayor, a move -- if approved -- some say could lead to better representation.

"It makes a significant difference. If we were a six-member council today, in the last election, two Hispanics would have been elected to our council," said Murray.

The measures will go to voters on the June 2014 primary ballot.