City of Pasadena Endorses Voters FIRST Act

Steven Cischke’s article in Pasadena Now reports on the Pasadena City Council’s vote in support of the Voters FIRST initiative. Nesting was a big issue during the vote and the relevant section is below:

The districts are to respect communities such as neighborhoods, cities and counties; be compact and, where possible, be nested so that two Assembly districts fit into a Senate district.Rosalind Gold, senior director of policy, research & advocacy for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, and Steven Ochoa, director of voting rights and policy research at the William C. Velasquez Institute, told the Council their groups oppose the initiative.

The requirement that districts be nested, they said, conflicts with the Voting Rights Act.

But Feng said many people, including those at the state Office of Legislative Counsel, have reviewed the Voters FIRST initiative and concluded it does not conflict with the Voting Rights Act.

She noted that the Voters FIRST initiative only requires nesting to the extent it does not conflict with the Voting Rights Act.

Local seniors activist and American Civil Liberties Union board Member Marvin Schachter told the Council the American Association of Retired Persons supports the initiative. After the hearing, he told Pasadena Now the ACLU specifically looked at the question of whether the Voters FIRST initiative conflicts with the Voting Rights Act and concluded that it does not.

After saying they didn’t feel comfortable supporting the initiative without more time to study it, Councilmembers Steve Madison and Victor Gordo abstained from the vote. Mayor Bill Bogaard and Councilmembers Chris Holden, Sid Tyler, Steve Haderlein, Margaret McAustin and Jacque Robinson voted in favor of the resolution.

“I think we’re all so thirsty for reform in this arena that we’re willing to … say yes to the first suitor that comes along,” Madison said. “What’s the acute problem in Pasadena here that we’re rushing to solve?”

“The acute problem in Pasadena,” answered Haderlein, “is that the state districts have been created to be highly partisan, and what that creates is safe districts. So, you get tremendously partisan candidates. When you’re dealing with tremendously partisan candidates … compromise is out of the question. That brings gridlock to our state government.”

“Our schools are suffering,” Haderlein continued, “because of the budget problem that is the result of unwillingness to compromise because you have highly partisan individuals in those seats.”

“The budget is suffering,” he added. “We are suffering because of a state government that is set up not for compromise, but rather for partisan bickering.”

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