Hundreds march for immigration reform in Milwaukee organized by Voces de la Frontera. (Voces director Christine Neumann Ortiz, center) Photo by Isiah Holmes
Mayor Tom Barrett has vetoed the Common Council’s redistricting maps, expressing concerns about the organization of districts on Milwaukee’s south side. “I want to be clear that my veto is not a repudiation of the overall redistricting work done by the Common Council,” said Barrett in a statement. “I appreciate the hard work of Alderman Hamilton, Legislative Reference Bureau and the City Clerk, who conducted this process efficiently and admirably in very short order.”
Immigrant rights activists from Voces de la Frontera sent a letter to Barrett on behalf of its redistricting commission last week that included nine potential redistricting ward maps. The goal, the advocates said, is to increase the Latino population in aldermanic Dist.13 to either a plurality or absolute majority Latino district, ranging from 47% to 53% Latino residents, according to a Voces press release.
The proposed maps, drawn by a UW-Milwaukee professor Matt Petering, comply with all legal requirements regarding they layout and makeup of districts that are spelled out for the redistricting process that is done every decade. Voces’ Dec. 2 letter to Barrett successfully requseted that the out-going mayor veto the maps approved by the Common Council in late November. Voces argues that it’s possible to create a third solid majority Latino aldermanic district on the far south side, without disturbing the super-majorities of Latino residents in other districts.
Voces Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said, “Last year Voces de la Frontera actively worked during a pandemic and under a hostile [federal] administration to encourage Latinxs to participate in the census so that new districts would reflect the importance of Milwaukee’s growing Latinx community for the next ten years.”
She said that new maps should reflect Milwaukee’s growing Latino community and provide the community with greater opportunity for representation: “The maps we are proposing clearly recognize the scale, movement and growth of the Latinx community in Milwaukee. We call upon Mayor Barrett to veto the map approved by the Common Council last week, which needlessly split the Latinx voter population into Aldermanic districts 11, 13, and 14 rather than attempting to combine the Latinx majority on the farther south south side.”
Neumann-Ortiz released a statement shortly after Barrett’s veto thanking the mayor for listening to the Latinx community’s concerns. She said they want the maps passed by the Common Council to be “revisited to reflect the growth, movement and importance of the Latinx community on the south side of Milwaukee.” Further, she asked that the Milwaukee Common Council not attempt to override the veto and, instead, work with them to get input from leaders in the Latinx community. She added, “As a majority people of color, working class city, the Common Council has a major opportunity to make Milwaukee a national leader in advancing voting, civil and workers rights by creating fair maps.”
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