Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

City of Santa Ana to Have District Elections in 2020

SANTA ANA, CA -- Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) applauds Santa Ana City Council for signing an ordinance that adopts a map transitioning the city from at-large elections to district elections in 2020. The ordinance reflects the voters’ approval of a ballot measure in November to convert to district elections. The ballot measure was placed on the ballot as a result of a legal settlement with the City of Santa Ana, litigated by Advancing Justice-LA and Sidley Austin LLP (“Sidley”).

In April 2018, on behalf of Theresa Le, a Santa Ana voter of Vietnamese descent, Advancing Justice-LA and Sidley filed a lawsuit against the city for violating the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) and disenfranchising Asian American voters. Under the existing at-large election system, the City of Santa Ana’s six councilmembers and mayor are elected by every voter in the city. Asian Americans, who represent 11% of the population, have not been able to elect a candidate of choice for nearly 40 years. But all that could change in 2020. Under a district election system, Asian Americans will have a better opportunity of electing their candidate of choice.

“After a long process I am excited that the city council took the final step to approve districts elections in Santa Ana yesterday! It is a step towards justice, stronger democracy, and respect for all voters in Santa Ana,” said plaintiff Theresa Le. “And it's a beautiful sign and opportunity for unity for the Vietnamese, Latino, White and all communities in Santa Ana.”

“We worked with a coalition of community organizations interested in empowering the voters in Santa Ana,” said Deanna Kitamura, voting rights project director at Advancing Justice-LA. “Where a minority community resides in a concentrated portion of a city, as in Santa Ana, district-based elections can increase civic participation. We look forward to watching the Asian American community in Santa Ana grow politically.”
“By adopting district elections, Santa Ana city councilmembers help ensure fair representation in their communities,” said Bridget Johnson, Partner at Sidley. “Finally, the Asian American community will have a chance to elect the candidate of their choice under this new system.”

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About Advancing Justice - LA: 
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) is the nation's largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (NHPI). Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice-LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice.
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Thursday, December 6, 2018
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Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.