Archives for posts with tag: Fullerton District Elections



District Elections in Fullerton might have been a good way to elect a more diverse council that would better reflect the ethnic makeup of the city, but the map adopted by the Fullerton City Council to effect that change, as reflected in Measure ii, is so bad that voters should vote against it.

Measure ii proposes splitting up Fullerton into five separate voting districts, each of which would elect a single member to the Fullerton City Council. It came into being as a result of two separate lawsuits claiming that the current system of at-large elections disenfranchises minority voters, in this case Latino and Asians, by diluting their votes in a citywide election. Dividing the city into different districts was meant to remedy the problem of underrepresentation on the city council by establishing individual districts that would presumably allow members from Latino or Asian majority districts the power to elect council members of their choice.

The settlement agreement with the plaintiffs who sued the city to force district elections required that the city adopt a map to put before the voters, along with the question of whether or not to adopt the district system at all, resulting in Measure ii. Unfortunately, Fullerton’s City Council adopted a map so bad that even people who support the concept of district elections should vote against Measure ii to prevent the adoption of this map.

When presented with numerous maps following a months-long process that involved both public workshops and the opportunity for anyone to submit a map using online software from the city’s website, the Fullerton City Council selected a map put forward by the owner of a downtown bar and restaurant, someone who acknowledged that he didn’t attend a single community workshop. Instead of serving to establish community-based districts that preserve neighborhoods and followed natural boundaries, this atrocious map cuts through neighborhoods and conveniently separates current council members’ residences form one another, keeping them from having to run against one another in the future.

It’s backers make the absurd argument that a few streets and intersections that comprise Fullerton’s downtown, now largely an entertainment district, should be split up five ways to give every resulting voting district a “voice” in what goes on there. The effect, of course, is just the opposite. The slender tendrils that stretch into the downtown area from every edge of the city split up the whole historic downtown residential neighborhood area, splintering the voices of thousands of residents into five other districts instead of giving them a district of their own. Not uncoincidentally, the greater downtown corridor streets are where most of the high density developments are planned. Robbing downtown area residents of a single unified voice in the planning of this area does a disservice not only to these voters, but to the entire city itself.

Readers may reference an earlier post by the Rag that counters the disingenuous argument made by our current Mayor, Jennifer Fitzgerald, in favor of Measure ii:

District Elections will almost certainly come to Fullerton soon, as they have to Anaheim, Garden Grove, Buena Park, and other nearby cities, but we don’t have to adopt a terrible map that serves the interests of a few business owners and incumbent council members to get there. The Rag strongly recommends voting NO on Measure ii.




Matthew Leslie

A remarkable thing happened during the August 2 Fullerton City Council meeting. During the long period of comments offered by members of the public, one in the parade of stooges supporting Map  8A, the bar owner map, admitted that it was indeed about development. Referencing his own half term as Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald’s appointee to the Fullerton Planning Commission, Sam Han cited the need for all five council members to have a voice in planning developments downtown.

Of course, every city council member is responsible for planning decisions all over the city now, and would be under a district elections system too. What Mr. Han and his fellow Stooges for Fitzgerald find alarming is the idea that a member might be elected by the downtown area residents to make the case for responsible planning decisions in the area, instead of packing it with cheap high-rise apartments. Map 8A idiotically divides the downtown into five pieces, robbing the area residents of a community voice.

Calling Downtown Fullerton the “face of our community, moving forward,” Sam Han stated that “when you have planning decisions, every city council (member) has to be responsible for those planning decisions, and I fear that if we go with Map 2B, yes, I agree there are merits to both maps, but I think in Map 8A the long term strategic planning of our city from what downtown could become, it would be more wise for the council to adopt those decisions.”

One could hope that Mr. Han’s sermons are better composed and delivered than his wandering comments at public meetings, but we take his point to be that it’s all about development.

Note that Sam Han clearly stated, this time, that he spoke only on behalf of himself and his family. The last time I wrote about Sam Han it was to question his claim that his words of support for Map 8 (now 8A) were on behalf of the “five thousand members of our church” referring to Grace Ministries, an almost exclusively Korean-American Church located on Brookhurst and Commonwealth, where he serves as a pastor.* (See Jesus Loves the Nightlife?…).

Earlier in his comments Mr. Han acknowledged that many other members of the Korean community were there that night to support a different map, and oppose Map 8A, but that he disagreed with them. Their support for a different map was a wise choice on their part, since each of the three other maps drew an Asian voting majority in the northwest area of Fullerton. Only the makers of Map 8A, supported by Mr. Han and his patron, Mayor Fitzgerald, somehow managed to formulate a northwest district without a majority Asian voting population, quite the high wire act. Jennifer Fitzgerald happens to live in what would be the northwest district in Map 8A. Coincidence that it doesn’t have an Asian voting majority? What do you think…?


*When he is not serving as District Representative for 68th District Sate Senator Donald P. Wagner (R).

Matthew Leslie

District elections Map # 8A splits the entire downtown residential district into five separate pieces, an idea so obviously stupid that the bar owner map’s supporters had to line up a veritable parade of stooges to speak in its favor during last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Many of these speakers had something to gain from the scheme, as we’ll see in later parts of this story. Others, well, one has to question both the judgment and humanity of whoever put Don Bankhead up this task.

Mr. Bankhead made a rare appearance in the chambers he occupied as a councilman and mayor for so many decades, “over thirty years,” he claimed that night, even though he served for only 24 years.

We begin this clip with Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald, who couldn’t keep the exasperation from her face as Mr. Bankhead approached the podium and then began his comments with an audible grunt. Next, Jan Flory and Don Bankhead shared a chuckle about who was going to kill him first, Ms. Flory or his wife, if he ran for office again. My money is on Jan Flory.

Mr. Bankhead unintentionally made a terrible argument against district elections by opining that things ran pretty well the old way, without districts, presumably when he was on the council. He followed it with a pretty good argument for the proposed new system by noting that “the only benefit” candidates would receive would be that they would only have to walk their respective districts during election season, and not the entire city, as he recalled having done when he ran for office. Somehow, I don’t imagine Don Bankhead knocking on doors in every part of the city. I never saw him at my door.

Throughout his comments he repeatedly confused the names of maps 2B, the map supported by Kitty Jaramillo and others, and 8A, which he was obviously supposed to support. The twice-recalled former councilman voiced his support for map “2A,” though there was no such map before the council that night. Even when queried by Jan Flory and then corrected by Jennifer Fitzgerald, Mr. Bankhead tragicomically stuck to his guns, insisting that “2A” was “the one that we’re here to talk about.” In other words, it was just like old times, when he was serving on the council, but without the highlighted script for him this time.

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