Asian Americans In California To Benefit From Redistricting

by Eugene Yi

It looks like the political clout of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities has improved due to California’s grand experiment in political redistricting.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission was charged with redrawing the boundaries to better reflect neighborhoods, and many of the new lines leave Asian American neighborhoods intact, thanks in part to a coalition of groups led by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC).

Many Asian American communities, including Koreatown, had been previously divided into several different districts, diluting the political clout of those areas. Representatives of the APALC went into further detail today at the their headquarters in Los Angeles, CA:

  • –Koreatown is now intact at the state assembly and state senate levels, and all but an eight-block sliver is to be included in the same congressional district.
  • –Assembly district 49, which covers the predominantly Chinese American communities of the western San Gabriel Valley, is now one of only two majority Asian American districts in the country.
  • –The new lines for Orange County and the South Bay’s Asian American communities were an improvement on prior maps, but Little Saigon remains divided between two different congressional districts.

The new lines will go into effect starting with the 2012 election, pending legal challenges.

The process is now starting at the city level, and Los Angeles is in the early stages of its redistricting process. The 21-member group includes two Korean Americans: Joseph Ahn, a lobbyist for Northrop Grumman, and Helen B. Kim, a corporate litigator and the immediate past chair of the Korean American Coalition.

A 2008 ballot initiative made California the first state in the country to conduct its decennial political redistricting via an independent commission. Ruling political interests have usually drawn the lines in more overtly partisan ways to allow elected officials to retain their political power. The new maps can be seen here.

A previous version of this article incorrectly named the firm Ahn works for as Boeing. He is a lobbyist for Northrop Grumman.