Latinos make up 40 percent of California’s population, but just about 15 percent of the state’s mayors and city council members. A bill backed by the state’s legislative Latino caucus is seeking to make city governments more representative. It would require some cities with populations of more than 100,000 to hold district-based municipal elections, instead of at-large elections.
Political consultant Mike Madrid specializes in Latino voting issues. He says there’s not sufficient data to suggest district elections would produce more diverse local governments.
"What we really do need to do is find a lot more data and research as to what is actually driving the lack of Latino participation," he says. "There are probably much bigger issues like socioeconomic status, exploding poverty rates in the Latino community."
Madrid says Latino leaders should focus should on civic engagement and voter participation to ultimately increase representation.
The League of California Cities says the bill would create a new unfunded state mandate. The group says the measure would also require cities to engage in a costly process to create municipal districts.