|(Feb 11, 2019, 8:10 a.m.) -- Equity for Cambodians, which successfully piloted a game-changing LB Redistricting Commission Charter Amendment (DDD) from an academic concept into-a Mayor accepted text and onto a Council-directed November 2018 special election ballot where it received roughly 60% voter approval celebrated its passage on Sunday night Feb. 10. The event, which the group titled "Our Emerging Cambodian-American Power" [flier text "...to honor and celebrate our community-based organizations/community members in our recent victory with Measure DDD, Democratic Party Assembly and discuss fututre opportunities"] drew roughly 250 people to the La Lune Thmey restaurant on Atlantic Ave. in LB's Cambodia Town.
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, the effort to end LB City Hall's gerrymandering of the Cambodian-American community (which diluted the community's political effectiveness) combined basic civics with sophisticated demographic research, amplified by thousands of petition signatures that ultimately led LB's Mayor and Council to put an independent Redistricting Commission on a special November 2018 ballot (alongside three other City Hall-desired measures.)
A number of LB area electeds (all Democrats) attended or sent representatives, mindful of the opportunity to tap into the Cambodian-American community's awakened political power.
A number of speakers (from Equity for Cambodians and others) alluded the possibility of electing at least one Cambodian-American to LB's City Council after the 2020 census enables redistricting for LB's 2022 and 2024 election cycles. Equity for Cambodians co-chair Laura Som suggested that might happen earlier in Council districts as currently drawn.
[Scroll down for further.]
Ms. Som didn't mention specific races but 2020 elections are scheduled in Council districts 6 and 4 which comprise the largest portions of "Cambodia Town.") District 6 (incumbent Andrews) covers much of Central LB; district 4 (incumbent Supernaw) extends to LB's eastside city limits. And if Council incumbent Lena Gonzalez (among speakers at the event) is elected in the state Senate in the coming months, a special election will be held to fill a vacancy in the 1st Council district (part of which adjoins "Cambodia Town.")
Ms. Som likened the LB Redistricting reform effort to Rosa Parks' refusal to sit at the back of a racially segregated bus. She credited a class taught at her MAYE Center by attorney Mark Coleman, combined with detailed demographics by CSULB Prof. Alex Norman, and grassroots efforts that collected roughly 3,000 petition signatures to pursue the game-changing effort. She noted that in November 2017, Councilman Al Austin initially proposed creating a Redistricting Commission and in June 2018, Mayor Robert Garcia released the text of a proposed Charter Amendment to create a Redistricting Commission. Ms. Som didn't flinch at accurately stating that Mayor Garcia's agendized text was unacceptable (which attorney Coleman and Equity for Cambodians speakers said publicly at the measure's initial June 2018 Council hearing.)
The refusal of Equity for Cambodians to accept what Mayor Garcia proposed resulted in Garcia inviting Equity for Cambodians to work with his office to redraft the measure which the Mayor subsequently advanced and the Council placed on the ballot as Measure DDD (alongside three other Charter Amendments AAA-CCC.) Equity for Cambodians' leadership then focused on ensuring passage of Measure DDD, along with passage of City Hall's three other desired Charter Amendments (AAA-CCC.)
In a political irony, Measure BBB (which was opposed by LB's Reform Coalition) now lets Council incumbents seek third terms without write-in requirements...and the incumbents include Councilman (Vice Mayor) Dee Andrews, whose 6th district includes much of Cambodia Town. Andrfews current term ends in 2020 and he hasn't publicly stated his plans in 2020.
Equity for Cambodian's co-chair Charles Song MC'd the event and repeatedly stated that the evening's victory celebration wasn't a partisan political party matter and Democrats and Republicans are all welcome. However nearing the end of the event, Mr. Song acknowledged (to applause) that at a recent Democrat party election for its upcoming convention delegates, a number of Cambodian-Americans changed their voter registrations from Republican to Democrats to cast ballots that elected two Cambodian-American Dem convention delegates (both of whom spoke at the event.) Mr. Song has publicly endorsed the candidacy of LB Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez in a March 2019 special election for state Senate.
Other speakers at the event included Mayor Robert Garcia, who credited the efforts of LB's Cambodian-American community, welcomed its greater political participation and conspicuously didn't mention his recent return from a Port trade-promotion trip that included a stop in Cambodia. While a source of national pride to many LB Cambodian-Americans, Garcia's actions have raised concerns among some that he may have sent the wrong message to Cambodian's repressive regime under 30+ year Prime Minster Hun Sen. (A Town Hall style meeting is scheduled on the issue later today (Feb. 11), LBREPORT.com coverage here.) Mayor Garcia acknowledged that the initial draft of the Redistricting measure wasn't good...and thanked Equity for Cambodians for working with his office in redrafting the measure.
Cong. Alan Lowenthal (D, LB-west OC) said the LB Cambodian-American community's push for Redistricting reform is consistent with other movements across the country seeking changes more reflective of what the public wants. [As separately reported by LBREPORT.com but not mentioned by Lowenthal, he is among co-sponsors supporting Cong. Ocasio-Cortez's "Green New Deal"] Cong. Lowenthal urged a focus on ensuring that the 2020 census counts "all residents" [which has become controversial with the Trump administration's insistence on including a census question on citizenship status.]
Councilman Roberto Uranga said that in the late 1970s, he foresaw the coming LB impacts of Cambodian refugees and their future benefits for the city. His wife, former Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, recently elected to the Dem Party's LB-district Executive Board and as a Party convention delegate, introduced Vanndearlyn Vong, a 19 year old Presidential scholar at CSULB (Poli Sci major.)
As previously reported by LBREPORT.com, Ms. Vong (in green dress, foreground center below) benefited from a well-organized turnout of LB Cambodian-Americans that brought her the largest number of votes in the Dem Party's local delegation selection election.
Another LB Cambodian-American, Pedora Keo (a nurse at St. Mary Medical Center) was also elected as a Dem party convention delegate.
Ms. Vong was part of a candidate slate endorsed by LB elected Dems and sat at Councilman Roberto Uranga's table alongside spouse Tonia Reyes Uranga. Ms. Keo was part of a "Blue Revolution" (further left-progressive) slate and sat at a separate table. Both women received applause at the
Supervisor Janice Hahn was represented at the Equity for Cambodians event by field deputy Herlinda Chico. Councilman Al Austin, who announced on Feb. 1, that he would end campaigning for the state Senate seat, was represented by his Council office Chief of Staff Jonathan Kraus.
Feb. 11, 11:17 p.m. Text amended to reflect that Ms. Keo was a "Blue Revolution" slate delegate. Feb. 12, 6:30 a.m. Additional text added on the contrating political alliances of Ms. Vong and Ms. Keo.
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