By Neil Nisperos Staff Writer
Posted: 09/01/2011 07:24:52 PM PDT

A Latino advocacy group proposed its own set of maps for the districts of San Bernardino County supervisors on Thursday, challenging maps the county has created.

Officials with the League of United Latin American Citizens said the county’s maps, if approved, could violate the federal Voting Rights Act by failing to properly reflect the county’s demographics.

View Maps: Alternative maps from the Lulac I.E. Chapter (United Latino American Citizens)(.pdf file)
Countering maps from San Bernardino County

County spokesman David Wert immediately challenged the claim, saying the county’s proposed maps do not violate federal law and preserve significant Latino majority voter strength in two districts.

“What LULAC is now asking for is not required by law,” Wert said.

Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, and members of the San Bernardino County Latino community, spoke in front of the County Government Center in San Bernardino in support of new maps.

The supervisors, according to LULAC, should rethink their redistricting plan because of significant growth in the Latino population in the past decade by 332,000 residents, while the non-Latino population declined by nearly 6,000. The county’s preferred maps dismiss the demographic changes, LULAC supporters say.

LULAC said the county failed “to create a new Latino district when they know that one is warranted,” according to a news release from Joe Olague, president the Inland Empire LULAC chapter.

Wert said LULAC initially complained that the county had only one Latino majority district, but, he said, the county has two – 57 percent in the 4th District and about 70 percent in the 5th District.

Olague acknowledged the county had indeed created two majority Latino districts, but said gerrymandering had still diluted Latino voter strength.

“We agree that they have created two, but the percentages are very low the way they have gerrymandered it,” Olague said, adding that earlier Latino population percentages for the two districts he had seen from the county were closer to 51 percent.

Baca said, “I’m not denying there’s two seats that they say they have, but there’s a bigger opportunity when they’re both above 60 percent versus one of them being 57 percent.”

Wert also pointed out that LULAC’s maps don’t indicate Latino population numbers for areas of El Rancho Verde, Rancho Cucamonga and unincorporated areas next to Fontana.

“I’m not sure how they’ve drawn Hispanic majority districts if they don’t know what the Latino population is in those areas,” Wert said.

To read entire story, click here.