The American Civil Liberties Union has its next OC city in sight for district elections. Fresh off a victory in Anaheim in November, the ACLU is now suing Fullerton. The current at-large system for electing city council members there is accused of disenfranchising Asian-Americans. Cue the next cheesy slogan for the next year or so: It's time to get it done, Fullerton!
But who'll be doing the winning?
Joining the ACLU in the lawsuit filed yesterday is the righteous Asian Americans Advancing Justice along with Robert Rubin, the godfather of California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)-based legal challenges. Jonathan Paik, the Fullerton resident and lead plaintiff in the suit, is a member of the LA area social justice Korean Resource Center.
The complaint maps out a history of discrimination in Orange County from the burning down of SanTana's Chinatown in 1906 to Fountain Valley Police's alleged practice in the early 90's of snapping photos of Asian-American youth for nothing more than supposedly wearing gang-related clothing. They didn't mention the many, many Klansmen who served in Fullerton government over the years--shame on you for that oversight of our award-winning series!
In Fullerton, the Department of Justice is noted for having to sue the city's police and fire departments for racial discrimination in hiring practices from 1986-1993. After a settlement, the Fullerton Police Department is what it is today: a more diverse brand of brutes!
Making their case, the ACLU also calls foul when Republican candidate Young Kim faced campaign literature from a rival in the 65th Assembly district race just last year implying the Korean-American was "Not One of Us." The lawsuit doesn't mention who dunnit, but we will: Democrat (and Latina) Sharon Quirk-Silva!
OC's racist history plays into the political present. Asian-Americans are 23% of the electorate in Fullerton but can only count two of their own as ever being elected to council. All five council members elected at-large are currently white. And the Weekly counts councilwoman Jennifer Fitzgerald twice for her alliance with ex-Anaheim mayor, creepy lobbyist and whitest man alive Curt Pringle!
A switch to district elections is demanded to remedy it all and give better representation for Asian-American Fullertonians, most of whom live in the northwest area of the city.
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And that's the ticket. If the ACLU and the social justice-minded groups backing the effort think it will deliver Democratic Party-friendly candidates, they better think again: The Korean corridor of the city is mostly made up of Republican-loving evangelicals. Any district carved up with the mega Grace Ministries International church in it will deliver candidate after candidate for the Grand Ol' Party time and time again.
PS, ACLU: Latinos have also had only two candidates on the Fullerton council--yet no lawsuit for them?
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2