Common Council reopens Aldermanic redistricting process with unanimous vote to sustain Mayor’s veto
The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously voted on December 14 to sustain Mayor Tom Barrett’s veto, regarding the Aldermanic map that the Council passed just three weeks ago.
By sustaining the veto that blocked the previously approved redistricting map, Council members have until January 18 to revise the Aldermanic boundaries. Local Latinx leaders had voiced concerns about how the map would affect their future representation. Milwaukee’s Latinx community has grown substantially over the past decade, and now represents 20.1% of the city’s total population.
“I appreciate the comments shared during the Council meeting and I am pleased with the unanimous vote to sustain my veto,” said Mayor Barrett in a statement. “I look forward to continuing discussions with Council members about the revised district boundaries. I am hopeful that we will be able to agree on the revisions needed to insure fairness and inclusion.”
Coordinated by Forward Latino, Voces de la Frontera, and the Hispanic Collaborative, the Latinx community was united in their message of concern to city leaders, first by urging the Mayor and then the Common Council to reject the map.
“From Latino culture and cuisine to Hispanic economic contributions to Milwaukee, this vote is an important step to acknowledging these contributions,” said Darryl Morin, National President of Forward Latino. “The purpose of the redistricting process is to ensure fair representation for all. The Common Council’s vote reaffirms their commitment to doing just that.”
Under the original design Latinx voters on Milwaukee’s far southside were fractured into three separate districts, rather than allowing for the creation of a third Latinx majority Aldermanic district.
“Now that we have the time, we look forward to working with the Common Council to be able to come up with a map that is reflective of the increases of the Latino community,” said Jesus Salas, member of Voces de la Frontera’s Fair Maps Commission.
By reopening the process, Latinx voters would have fundamental input into a new Aldermanic map that allowed their community to elect a representative of their choice. While there still remains import work to be done, Latinx leaders were thankful that the Mayor and Common Council pressed the pause button, to give the issue further review.
“I think the process that we are going through right now is greater than redistricting. I think part of the process that we are attempting to demonstrate and exemplify is our ability to have an impact on the way that marginalized communities interact with their government,” said Alderman Ashanti Hamilton. “This is something that we should do if we are given the extra time to do.”
As Chairman of the Judiciary and Legislation Committee, Alderman Hamilton was under time constraints to complete the difficult redistricting process, due to delays at the Federal, state, and county levels.
Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa was the single vote against the original map proposal. Before the vote she talked about the tremendous responsibility she felt to advocate on behalf of the city’s Latinx community, so that their growth was reflected in the redistricting process. She was thankful for Alderman Hamilton’s understanding to revisit the issue.
“I want to thank my colleagues for their support, and taking time to meet, discuss, and contemplate this decision, and Mayor Barrett for his veto of this item. I also want to thank the Latino leaders and organizations who stood with me shoulder-to-shoulder in advocating for the fastest growing constituency in Wisconsin,” said Alderwoman Zamarripa. “We’ve come this far because we stood together, a beautiful cross section of our diverse Latino community. However, the work is only just beginning. My hope is that we can push forward to find a consensus amongst our Latino community and our Common Council for a map that fairly represents our city’s diverse communities.”