Guerra fires up crowd at Supervisors’ redistricting meeting

LOS ANGELES – Anybody who knows anything about Downey knows that Councilman Mario Guerra speaks his mind at City Council meetings.

Turns out he gets fired up at Board 0f Supervisors meetings, too.

Guerra was one of dozens of public officials to speak at Tuesday’s hearing over how to draw new supervisorial maps based on the 2010 U.S. Census, which found that 48 percent of the county’s residents are Latino.

Downey – which is about 70 percent Lationo — is in Don Knabe’s fourth district, but Supervisor Gloria Molina submitted a map that shifts Downey into a new district that would be represented by her and would include much of the San Gabriel Valley. The proposal is part of an effort by her and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to create at least two districts with Latino majorities, a move they say is required by the federal Voting Rights Act.

It’s a proposition that didn’t sit well with Guerra, who said Knabe has worked well with Downey.

“This is about representation, not about race,” he said. “I’m insulted by any suggestion that people in our city vote based… on surname.”

Despite¬† a ban on applause, the crowd erupted into cheers after Guerra’s short speech.

In all, about 700 people packed into the Supervisors’ chambers, and about 500 of them stood up to be sworn in to testify.

Most city officials spoke in favor of Knabe’s plan, which keeps districts basically as they are now. But a few speakers from primarily Latino cities backed Molina’s plan.

“I’m here to back Supervisor Gloria Molina,” said Pico Rivera Councilman Bob Archuleta.

He said many Latinos served in the armed forces only to come back to a district where their power was reduced by political maneuvering.

“We’re only asking for fairness and equality,” he said.

As it stands, it doesn’t look like any of the plans will get the four votes needed to become law. Ridley-Thomas and Molina are sticking together, and Knabe and supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Mike Antonovich seem unwilling to change district borders.

Another redistricting hearing is scheduled for Sept. 27, and if the supervisors can’t settle on a plan, the decision will go to a committee made of Sheriff Lee Baca, Assessor John Noguez and District Attorney Steve Cooley. Most experts think the trio will be unwilling to call for the major changes backed by Molina and Ridley-Thomas. Many observers predict the issue will end up being settled in court.

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