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Back Room Deals Mar Lakewood’s District Voting Process

 

 

 

 

Map 104: The most contentious and confusing, was approved by three councilmembers, with one abstention. The map broke the guideline rules set up by the City Council, and pushed the District 5 vote for a councilperson until 2024. Another map would have allowed a District 5 election in 2022. Click image to see larger map.

 

November 16, 2021

By Brian Hews

A few months ago, Lakewood decided to establish voting districts after a CVRA lawsuit was threatened by a local attorney.

The city set up guidelines and procedures to draw the maps.

No matter, after months of public hearings, local gerrymandering has hit the Southwest Los Angeles County city with a vengeance.

In a series of well-attended meetings, residents, otherwise known as constituents, gave their input on which maps they thought were fair.

But that apparently did not concern the Lakewood City Council, who is twisting and turning its way to a map no one wants, led by Vice-Mayor Croft along with Councilmen Ariel Pe and Todd Rogers, and newly appointed Councilwoman Vickie Stuckey.

And the decision was made so fast, that some residents are claiming a Brown Act violation by three councilmembers.

Currently, there are three proposed maps, the most controversial, and questionable, is Map 104.

According to sources, no residents support this map.

Map 104 splits “communities of interest” and favors two seated Councilmen, Rogers and Croft, along with their appointee Vickie Stuckey.

The map is so gerrymandered that Cerritos College Trustee and Lakewood resident Marisa Perez spoke out at a public meeting against the map; ABCUSD Trustee Olga Rios also objected.

Residents voiced their concern that the flood control channel used as the dividing for Districts 3 and 4 is gerrymandered, which placed Stuckey in District 3.

Under the Croft-Stuckey-Pe endorsed map 104, District 5 would not have an election until 2024, and would place Mayor Jeff Wood against Councilman Ariel Pe in 2024.

That violated the guidelines set up by the City Council, “Districts shall respect the previous choices of voters by avoiding the creation of head-to-head contests between Council Members previously elected by the voters.”

No matter, at their last meeting, Croft, Stuckey and Pe voted for 104, to the detriment of residents in District 5; Rogers abstained, Woods was the lone no vote.

The neighborhood group Lakewood Forward wrote in a letter to City Council about the District 3-4 dividing line, “Wouldn’t Palo Verde Ave., which divides Lakewood and Cerritos, be the boundary for this neighborhood? Or was this map drawn to amplify the political power of certain incumbents?”

Map 103, on the other hand, was supported by most residents, followed the guidelines, did not split communities of interest, and allowed District 5 to have an election in 2022.

Map 103, the preferred map for residents, triggers a 2022 District 5 vote, but was rejected by the Council. Click image to see larger map

 

But that would have placed Stuckey (who was appointed by Croft) and Croft in the same district and against each other in 2022.

Woods attempted a motion to vote on 103 but it was not seconded. “No member of the public is in favor of 104, just not seeing the advantage of going north-south, splitting up communities of interest.

We are also violating the criteria that we’ve established pitting two Council members that were duly elected against each other,” said Wood.

At the meeting tonight, that is certain to be well-attended and contentious, the Council will consider final adoption of the ordinance and resolution.

It will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Weingart Ballroom. 5000 Clark Ave in Lakewood.

Map 104 (top) and 103 (bottom).

 

 

 

 

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