Local Government

The Political Impact of Council District Maps

Fullerton City Council is set to officially adopt a new Council District map tonight, March 29, that will be in place for the next ten years. At their last meeting, a Council majority chose Map 114, and this is likely the map they will officially adopt.

During the redistricting process, pursuant to the FAIR MAPS Act, the Redistricting Advisory Commission and City Council were told not to consider partisan political information in their selection of maps. The FAIR MAPS Act reads, “The council shall not adopt council district boundaries for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against a political party.”

During the redistricting public hearings, some members of the public raised the question: How can Commissioners or Councilmembers know whether they are favoring or discriminating against a political party if they don’t have that data?

The Observer was able to obtain maps containing partisan political data from the Democratic Party of Orange County, who used a publicly available redistricting app to include composite voting data from the last three elections.

We present first, Map 114, which shows Districts 1 and 2 with a Republican majority and Districts 3, 4, and 5 with Democrat majorities. This map was supported by Mayor Fred Jung (District 1), Councilmember Nick Dunlap (District 2), and Mayor Pro Tem Bruce Whitaker (District 4).

Political party leaning of each District in Map 114. Courtesy of the Democratic Party of Orange County.

Here is the demographic breakdown of Map 114.

Next is Map 112, which was favored by Councilmembers Jesus Silva and Ahmad Zahra at their last meeting. This map shows the same basic partisan makeup, with a stronger Democrat lean in Districts 3 and 5.

Political party leaning of each District in Map 112. Courtesy of the Democratic Party of Orange County.

Here is the demographic breakdown of Map 112.

Perhaps the most significant difference between the two maps is the impact on Councilmember Jesus Silva. While Map 112 leaves Silva in the Democrat majority District 3 (which he currently represents), Map 114 moves him into Republican majority District 2, a seat currently occupied by Nick Dunlap, whose term doesn’t end until 2024. Map 114 essentially removes the only Latino representative (Silva) from the Council.

While City Council seats are supposed to be non-partisan, Jesus Silva is a Democrat, married to Democratic State Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva, and Nick Dunlap is (it seems) a Republican.

Thus, Map 114 negatively impacts Jesus Silva, whose term ends this year, and prevents him from running for office until 2024, where he will face a (probable) Republican in a Republican-leaning District.

According to the Orange County Registrar of voters, 40.7% of voters in Fullerton are registered Democrat, and 30.3% are registered Republican.

Can Redistricting Advisory Commissioners run for office?

During the last City Council meeting, a member of the public suggested that map 114 could benefit Greg Sebourn, Chair of the Redistricting Advisory Commission, and a former City Councilmember, should he choose to run for City Council again. In response, Councilmember Nick Dunlap said that Redistricting Advisory Commissioners had to take an oath not to run for office.

This is not true.

The Observer reached out to Fullerton City Clerk Lucinda Williams, who responded, “They did not have to make that promise.”

Map 115: A Late Submission

Another map, 115, was submitted after the last Redistricting public hearing, meaning Council and the public have not had the chance to weigh in on this map. According to the Fullerton City Clerk, this map was submitted by an individual named Melissa Miller. No other information about the submitter was included.

Map 115 moves Jesus Silva into District 5.

One notable element of Map 115 is the inclusion of a squarish area that puts Jesus Silva in District 5. If adopted, this would mean Silva would run against current District 5 representative Ahmad Zahra this year.

While it seems unlikely that Council would adopt a map submitted so late and with no public input, that is exactly what Council did during the last redistricting process in 2015-2016—when they chose a late submission from a downtown business owner over a map that was produced through many public meetings and had fairly broad support.

Incidentally, this time around the map, which had the most public support, Map 110, was not recommended by the Redistricting Advisory Commission or City Council.

Could Fullerton be in for more of the same? Tune in to the final Redistricting Advisory Commission meeting tonight March 29 at 6:30pm in Fullerton Council Chambers at 303 West Commonwealth Avenue.

Community members may attend the meeting in person or view the live broadcast at https://fullerton.legistar.com, on Fullerton Spectrum Channel 3, and Fullerton AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

The City invites members of the public to make public comments in person in Council Chambers or via Zoom using the link zoom.us/join or dialing 1-669-900-9128 with Meeting ID: 978 4219 1797.

Residents may review Map 114 and additional draft maps by visiting the Draft Maps section of the City’s redistricting webpage. Community members can also provide input by emailing to  districtelections@cityoffullerton.com.


7 replies »

  1. Adding more seats to the city council may improve the results of council redistricting.

  2. By the way, did you even bother to find out if Greg Sebourn even lives in the new District 3?

  3. I just marvel at the process. I hope that Mayor Jung will catch the point in time — once Seaborne (or someone _just like him_) gets elected … he’ll be the next Silva / Zahra.

  4. Any map can be considered tonight including map 110. Thank you for an excellent article.

  5. “Incidentally, this time around the map, which had the most public support, Map 110, was not recommended by the Redistricting Advisory Commission or City Council.”

    The decision of the lemmings to run over the edge of the cliff into the sea had the most public support. “We live in a democracy” one of the lemmings was heard to say as he leapt.

  6. Map 115 isn’t bad – except for that piece of D5 that jumps above Chapman. The only reason for that is to put two incumbents in the same election. Hard to see that passing legal muster. I do like using Fullerton Creek as a boundary between 2 and 3. That makes a lot of sense. Other than that 114 is the by far the best map. If Fullerton Latinos want a representative they can actually WORK to get one in D3 and D5 that are both up this year. Map 112 is just a gerrymander to save Silva. And that’s illegal.

  7. Who submitted late map 115? And thanks Jesse and team for such a clear article about the maps and consequences.