Editor’s Note: The following post was written by Oscar Reyes of Anaheim and is published exclusively by TheLiberalOC in regards to the recommendation of the Oscar Reyes Map 2 for Anaheim Districts (click the link to read the agenda and report).
I want to thank the team here at The Liberal OC for this opportunity to make the case for the district plan I submitted entitled Oscar Reyes Map 2. First, to introduce myself, I am a lifelong Anaheim resident; I attended schools in this community including Loara Elementary School, Ball Junior High School, and Anaheim High School. I attended Cal State San Marcos and after graduating chose to return to the community I call home to make a difference. My mentor, Anaheim City School District Trustee Ryan Ruelas, introduced me to the political world. This past election, I served as the field coordinator for Mr. Ruelas, as well as Anaheim Union High School District Trustee Al Jabbar. Our team also helped promote the Yes on Measures L and M campaigns. After helping pass these initiatives, I wanted to help with the formation of the 6 districts. Thus, I submitted a plan on July 6 called Oscar Reyes Map 1. After some discussions with friends familiar with the process, I amended the plan to create Oscar Reyes Map 2, which was submitted on July 31st.
Yesterday evening, the Advisory Committee of five Retired Judges tasked with making a recommendation to the Council, unanimously approved the report recommending the map I introduced on July 31st, Oscar Reyes Map 2 as the map the Anaheim City Council should make the official Council District map. I am humbled and honored by their decision and honored by the widespread support of so many Anaheim residents.
This plan came about through discussions with many residents, community stakeholders and experts on this issue. I wanted to create a plan that embodied the promise made to the voters when they passed Measure L. I believe this map accomplishes these goals. Having two crossover districts along with one Section 2 district gives the Latino community more influence in more districts, as opposed to limiting their influence to just two districts. If Latinos are a little more than half the population of this city, it clearly makes sense to create three districts where they are a strong majority or plurality of the voters. This plan accomplishes this goal along while ensuring neighborhoods, landmarks and common community markers are kept together. Here are some examples.
The changes in West Anaheim in Districts 1 and 2 came about through multiple discussions with stakeholders and residents in West Anaheim. In District 1, the far western areas of the city, west of Magnolia stays together, as they expressed this is a cohesive community of interest, while many expressed the need to add in the neighborhoods north of Crescent between Brookhurst and Magnolia. The reasoning is the demographic and economic makeup of this area reflected more the area west of Magnolia. This also keeps the entire Anaheim portions of Savanna and Centralia School District, giving this area one point of contact on the Anaheim City Council who is from the area and will have similar concerns.
In District 2, the major goal is to keep the Little Arabia district together, as well as include Magnolia High School, where most of those who reside in Little Arabia attend high school. Also the attendance areas Walt Disney Elementary, Jonas Salk Elementary and Juliett Low Elementary which serve the Little Arabia community crosses both sides of the “County Island.” This is why it was important for District 2 to encompass both sides of the “County Island” that divides a portion of West Anaheim. The Brookhurst Corridor also remains together in one district.
In Central Anaheim, which is my neck of the woods, District 3 was designed not only to encompass the Colony but to include ALL of the historic areas of Anaheim, including Five Points and North Palm, even including the small portion of the North Palm historic district that is north of La Palma Avenue. It is important they have one Councilmember who is a point person on Mills Act issues. It was also a priority to keep the Colony together. People have overwhelmingly expressed the importance of the Colony staying together in one district, and this district accomplishes that goal. This is also the sole Section 2 District, as defined by the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. Latinos comprise 50.8% of the eligible voters in this district.
District 4 is designed to be a district that contains the Disney Resort but also meant to encompass (as much as allowable under population equality rule) the neighborhoods surrounding the Resort and are most affected by its presence. The neighborhoods targeted for this district include the Ponderosa neighborhood, the working class neighborhoods just south of the Colony and the working class neighborhoods just west of Disneyland such as Jeffery-Lynne. In these areas reside many of the people who work in the Resort District, so it is meant to have a Councilmember who represents the Resort but is chosen by the neighbors who are affected and the workers who help the Resort function. A reason for the configuration that allows for District 4 to go north along State College to Santa Ana Avenue was to keep certain elementary school attendance areas are kept entirely within the District boundaries. Speaking to some residents who are also parents, they expressed an interest in keep Stoddard, Palm Lane, Ponderosa, Olive Street, Orange Grove, and Roosevelt Elementary Schools as well as the bulk of the attendance area for Paul Revere in one district.
District 5, which is where I currently reside is meant to unify the eastern neighborhoods of Anaheim and the State College corridor, where many residents expressed to be a desire to be encompassed into one district. Many in the corridor west of State College send their children to elementary schools that are east of State College, such as those who reside in the Anna Drive neighborhood but attend school at Sunkist Elementary School, which is east of State College Ave. I believed it was important they have a Councilmember from this general area who will understand these concerns.
Last but certainly not least, District 6 is meant to encompass the eastern portion of the city, generally referred to as Anaheim Hills. This was the one area where there seemed to be consensus on how it should be shaped.
There was a debate about whether or not to create two Section 2 districts for Latinos under the Federal Voting Rights Act. While I understand the reasoning some people made regarding this overly strict interpretation of the law, I do not believe it is necessary. Reviewing some of these maps that created two Section 2 districts, it was clear neighborhoods and certain communities of interest would have to be divided to achieve these goals. This was not acceptable to me as a lifelong resident, and many of the people I spoke to agreed. Cohesive communities in compact districts matter more at the end of the day. This is precisely why this plan has garnered so much widespread support, among many community groups, stakeholders, and residents who call Anaheim their home. An argument was even made about the need to split the Platinum Triangle development in order to “protect” Latino representation. Communities of interest and neighborhoods should not have to be divided in order to “protect” another. That is not what this process is about. This is about representation, and to me community comes first, and this plan is meant to keep the promise of Measures L and M to create true community representation. That is the goal of this plan, to create a map that is beneficial to the Latino community without sacrificing other communities of interest and neighborhoods in the process. With this map, that goal has been accomplished.
This is why this plan is supported by Anaheim residents throughout the city including South Anaheim Neighborhood District Chairman Arturo Ferreras, South Anaheim neighborhood activist Martin Lopez, longtime Anaheim Hills resident and Vietnam Veteran Ron Bengochea (who started out as a skeptic on council districts), Rudy Gaona, Ada Tamayo, Genoveva Garcia, President of the Arab-American Chamber of Commerce Rida Hamida, Marisol Ramirez, Jason Mills, Deborah Phares, 30 year resident Betsy Martinez, Local High School Teachers and residents Karen Ridley and Jose Paolo Magcalas, community activist Patricia Adelekan, former ACSD School Board member Dr. Jose Moreno as well as community organization such as Orange County Organized for Responsible Development, UNITE HERE LOCAL 11, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice, Korean Resource Center, LOS AMIGOS, Orange County Asian-Pacific Islander Community Alliance, Youth on the Move Education International, and Orange County Congregation Community Organization all supported this map. As a speaker pointed out, this was not just a map with my name on it, this was truly the PEOPLE’S MAP.