LOS ANGELES, CA – Reacting to concerns that its elections process shuts out Latinos and a threat of legal action, the Antelope Valley Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution this week to convert elections for board members to a district-based system.
The resolution was adopted in response to a March 23 letter from MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and the Antelope Valley chapter of LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) saying that the current at-large system of electing board trustees disenfranchises Latinos in violation of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. A subsequent letter sent on August 22 also called for implementation of a district-based system prior to the next trustees election in 2018.
The March 23 letter points out that while Latinos constitute 35 percent of the district’s voting-age population, and 46 percent of Antelope Valley Community College’s student body, no Latino candidate has been elected to the board in the last eight elections, spanning 16 years.
“The board’s decision to respond to the concerns of the community and convert to a district-based system for the 2018 election is an important step towards fairer representation in the future,” said Tanya Pellegrini, a MALDEF staff attorney. “We look forward to working with residents of Antelope Valley Community College District to ensure that all voices in the district are heard.”
At its meeting on September 11, the board approved a timeline prepared by a demographic consultant that would enact the switch to district-based elections in time for the November 2018 election. The next step in the process is for the board to draw up a map of district boundaries for discussion at public hearings and town hall meetings in the community.
MALDEF has proposed a five-district map that would include one Latino-majority district.
César Miguel Rivera Vega Magallón, president of Antelope Valley LULAC, praised the Board’s approval of the resolution.
“AV LULAC was heartened to see the Board of Trustees of the Antelope Valley Community College District take proactive action to convert our elections system from an at-large system to a more fair system where Trustees are elected by districts,” he said. “We look forward to participating in the mapping phase in the near future so that our subsequent elections are fair and abide by both the spirit and letter of our laws.”
The next election for the Antelope Valley Community College District board will be in November 2018.