Last year, in order to be compliant with the California Voting Rights Act of 2001, the City of Fontana moved to district elections in a process called redistricting. District elections make it so that if someone wishes to run for City Council, they have to live within the District that they want to represent, whereas before, you could live anywhere in the city and run for City Council (this is called an at-large election). The purpose of by-district elections is to allow for more diversity and representation of minorities within municipalities.
The process began in late 2016 and included five public hearings on the issue. The hearings were meant to be open to any and everyone that wanted to learn more or make comments about the redistricting. Few people now about this today, even fewer as it was happening. Very little official outreach was done within the city, to alert the public to a process that would literally shape our representation. A group of community members got together, spearheaded by myself and two others, and we formed We Want 7. Our goal was to advocate for seven districts with a rotating mayor (meaning each council member could serve as mayor for one year) within the city of Fontana to allow for greater representation and to give Fontana residents more choices. With over 210,000 people living in Fontana, it just made sense to have smaller, more manageable district sizes that would ensure that neighborhoods with the same needs or history had a voice.
We held several of our own informational meetings and had a professional demographer donate their time and talents (worth thousands of dollars) to create three maps based on community input and the guidelines set forth by the Council--our 7 district map, two compromises: 6 districts with an at-large mayor, and 4 districts that kept under-served communities together. Through our efforts, we had 80 residents join us, and the City began to take notice. After the second Public Hearing, notices were finally posted at community centers throughout the city, not just on social media as before, and translated into Spanish.
In July, we put together a twenty minute presentation for the Council to offer our maps and asked that the Council vote for a postponement of the final vote so that we could give the greater community time to review the alternative maps that our group had come up with, and to meet with the Council. Unfortunately, a majority of the Council voted to divide the city into only 4 districts based on a map created long before the public got involved, and to ignore our pleas for a compromise.
I made the decision to run for City Council that night. I am running to represent District 4, the south end of the Fontana, from about San Bernardino Ave down to the County line, because we deserve better: Better representation; better economic opportunities; responsible, smart and sustainable development; cleaner air; and more transparency in our local government.
I'm running to create a better, brighter, more inclusive future for Fontana. This includes making sure that all parts of the city are seeing investments and development that improves the quality of life of the residents--because we deserve it.
Together we can keep moving forward.