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FUESD's democracy is a test of time and education

 

Last updated 2/1/2019 at 4:14pm



As an advocate for human and civil rights for the Latino community in Fallbrook, I engaged in the public process to develop maps for trustee area district elections for the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District. The mandate for this process was set forth in 2001 with the California Voting Rights Act, thus this is a process long overdue and would not have taken place if the district wasn’t facing litigation to do so.

Overall, this opportunity gives our community an opportunity to improve Fallbrook’s democracy and should allow for fair representation to strengthen. The move to district elections is about increasing access to civic engagement and moving our community forward together.

Given the legal obligations to comply with litigation, it was a rushed process but good and necessary nonetheless.

While the FUESD trustees went through the motions of complying with the litigation, President Stillman clearly expressed at the initial hearings that it would be based on their own interests as trustees and that there would not be an option for the community to submit their own maps, only to give comment at hearings on the maps they developed.

Indeed, the five districts in the two maps first proposed – maps 101 and 102 – were drawn around the residencies of each current trustee, and they were drawn in a way that would not allow the majority Latino district to vote in the next election of 2020.

That is not what democracy looks like, so our community mobilized and pushed for more input and participation, which led to a community workshop on district maps and the development of two more maps. The third option, map 103, was more of the same, drawn around the current trustees and disenfranchising thousands of Latino voters in 2020. I would dare say that it was a step backward in that it placed the Latino district in the hands of a trustee who expressed her disdain for the district representation process, Trustee De Jong. Furthermore, the southern boundary of the map leaves me out of the Latino district by one block. Not cool.

Only one map, the Favela/Stamos/Ortiz map allowed for the Latino district to vote in 2020. At the last hearing, many community members who attended stood on their feet to show their support for this map. Nobody else spoke in favor of any of the other maps.

The FUESD’s final map for Trustee Area District Elections falls short of adequately addressing the Latino community’s concerns and proves why fair representation is long overdue. Yet, the discussion about what fair representation looks like has begun, and we welcome the opportunity to engage.

We will see this process all the way through to the county level. We won’t compromise our democracy or take a back seat. The age of sitting in the back of the bus has long passed. We urge community members to get involved in the current redistricting process underway at the Fallbrook Union High School District and work to move forward together.

Ricardo Favela

Maie Ellis Elementary School parent

 

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