By Jim Tortolano
The lengthy process of shifting from at-large voting for Westminster City Council positions to a by-district alternative finally came to an end Wednesday.
By a 5-0 vote, the council chose to adopt a resolution approving the “yellow” map for use in the 2020 election. Seats 2 and 3 will be on the ballot that year, with seats 1 and 4 in 2022.
An earlier motion to adopt the map – before choosing the sequence of council elections – was approved on a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Sergio Contreras dissenting. He supported the “purple” map, saying, “It does not dilute the Latino vote.”
Officially, the resolution must come back to the council for a second reading and final adoption on Dec. 18 to complete the process. Additionally, the precise boundary lines on the map will likely change in 2022, reflecting the impact of the 2020 census.
Mayor Tri Ta – who is not affected as the mayor position is filled on a citywide vote – made the original motion in favor of the yellow map. “It’s not easy for us to select a map that will satisfy everyone,” he said.
Westminster is moving to by-district elections to counter potential legal action claiming that at-large balloting creates “racially polarized” voting. According to figures submitted by consultant NDC (National Demographics Corporation), the voting-age population in the city is 50 percent Asian, 30 percent non-Hispanic whites and 17 percent Hispanic or Latino.
The current council makeup has four Vietnamese members and one Latino.