What is Redistricting and why should I get involved? That was the reoccurring question leading up to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs (GACHA) March 17, 2011 meeting to discuss the process along with guest speakers: Representative Joseph Miro, Arturo Vargas, President of the National Association of Latino Elected/Appointed Officials (NALEO), John Flaherty (Delaware Coalition for Open Government) and City Councilman Sam Prado. Redistricting is in fact it is the most important step after ensuring the census is complete. Once the census count was released in Delaware on March 1, 2010, the Delaware General Assembly began the process of determining the district boundaries that will create the house and senate districts – this will determine the pool of qualified persons who can be elected to represent you for the next 10 YEARS!
The districts must follow four criteria: Be formed of contiguous territory; Be nearly equal in population; Be bounded by major roads, streams or other natural boundaries; and Not be created so as to unduly favor any person or political party. Other commonalities can be taken into consideration like culture and language. Delaware’s population did not increase to gain additional seat in Congress but the population growth shifted to Kent (28%) and Sussex (25%) County which will most likely create lost seats in the northern part of the state. Based on the 73,221 Hispanics in Delaware today, especially the high density clusters in New Castle and Sussex County, it is imperative that the community understand and get involved in the redistricting process as it will impact their representation in the state for the next 10 years!
“The guest speakers updated on the redistricting process occurring on a national level, and the challenges on the local level. Bottom line – the Hispanic population growth demonstrated in the Census2010 data must be reflected in the redistricting process in Delaware and throughout the country. Historically, large minority groups are fragmented which diminishes their voting power,” said Wanda Lopez, Executive Director GACHA.
Representante Joe Miro:
“El censo del año pasado trajo como consecuencia que los distritos políticos de Delaware cambien para las próximas elecciones. ¿Qué significan estos cambios para la población? Significa que los límites de cada distrito sufrirán un cambio y que los residentes tengan que votar en un distrito nuevo en las proximas elecciones. El proceso de ajustar los distritos se debe a un gran aumento en la poblacion estatal. El dato importante es que ha habido un cambio grande en la población. Ahora tenemos más residentes en el condado de Sussex que en la década pasada, además la ciudad de Wilmington ha perdido población. Este proceso de reorganización será llevado a cabo por el partido político que controla la Casa de Representantes y el Senado. En este caso el partido Demócrata estará a cargo de esta reorganización conocida en inglés como”re-apportionment” . Sin embargo es necesario e importante que exista la participación del pueblo y organizaciones para que esta reorganización política incluya los intereses y representación apropiada de los latinos en nuestro estado. La población hispana aumentó a casi 80,000 personas por lo tanto debemos de estar incluidos en el proceso de ajuste electoral para que nuestros intereses sean representados. Esta reorganización de distritos no debe de ser realizada solamente por politicos. Debe existir un ambiente abierto para todos los residentes de Delaware”.
“The Voting Rights Act prohibits the drawing of district lines that may dilute and or divide the votes of Latinos and other groups of color,” said NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas. “Since the districts created during the redistricting process will decide the political landscape for at least the next ten years, the Latino community deserves the right to participate in the process to create districts that reflect their needs and electoral preferences. This is why participating in the Census was so important, and why today it’s about making sure Latinos now have the opportunity to translate the Census numbers into fair representation.”
John D. Flaherty, President, Delaware Coalition for Open Government:
“By law, legislative district lines must be redrawn every ten years to take into account the growth or decline of population in current legislative districts throughout the state. The current redistricting process protects incumbents and renders any public input, after the fact, meaningless. In contrast to the General Assembly, New Castle County Council appoints a citizen commission to hold open meetings to conduct their redistricing process. Meetings are advertised and public input is encouraged and recorded. New Castle County conducts an open redistricting process. Why can’t the Delaware General Assembly do likewise?”
Catherine Rodríguez, MS Pastor Associate
Community of Faith:
“We need to proactively communicate to the Latino community about re-districting and the impact it will have in our state. Educating our community is essential for it will present the information we all need to know, the knowledge that we all need to share, and the action we all need to take. If we proceed with diligence and efficacy as a united coalition, we will provoke necessary changes that will greatly impact the growing Latino population like never before in history.”/
“Necesitamos comunicarle proactivamente a la comunidad latina sobre la redistribución de districtos y el impacto que tendrá en nuestro estado. Educar a la comunidad es esencial porque presenta la información que todos necesitamos saber, el conocimiento que todos necesitamos compartir y la acción que todos necesitamos tomar. Si procedemos con diligencia y eficacia como una coalición unida, podremos provocar los cambios necesarios que impactarán de gran manera la creciente población latina como nunca antes en la historia”.
Nancy Lopez, President/CEO for NancyLopezMedia:
“It is imperative that the public be aware and make their voices heard regarding redistricting. I understand that the matter may be intimidating but you don’t have to know ALL about it t let the powers that be aware that we know that lines are drawn. It will be up to us to at least have a voice at the “power table”.
Sandra Bucay, president, First State LULAC:
“As an organization who focuses on bringing information to the community in layman’s terms, it is important to provide the venue to do so at such a time as this. Although Sandra Bucay is the President/State Director of First State LULAC, she admits she is not as knowledgeable as she would like to be. She has secured a radio spot on 1590 AM radio for March 26, to ask questions of John Flaherty, from the Delaware Coalition for Open Government and dialogue with Representative
Joe Miro and City Council Member Sammy Prado: “The goal is to bring awareness to Hispanic/Latinos in Delaware on Redistricting and What it means for us?”