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National City's new voting policy looks to empower Filipino community

Steve Angeles | TFC News National City, California

Posted at Jan 18 2022 08:57 AM

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One of the largest Filipino communities in Southern California has made moves to finally bring a stronger Filipino voice to its policymaking.

The National City City Council has voted to switch from an at large election-in to an election-by district. The San Diego suburb of about 61,000 will be divided into city council districts, giving residents a chance to elect city councilmembers based on their geography and specific needs.

"For many years, we've been trying to get a representative that would listen to our community so what we've done is demanded that the city council adopt a resolution to transition the city from at large to district voting. That way, each section of the city could elect their own representative and we know that there's a large percentage of Filipinos that live in a certain area of the city. That there was a representative elected from that area, they would listen more closely to the voice of the Filipinos," Honorary Philippine Consul General Atty. Audie de Castro says.

Despite about a fifth of residents identifying as Asian, including many Filipinos, the town has had only one Filipino councilmember in the past 22 years. "It's time that we have one so that we can have some consistency in the election but more importantly, this is not only about getting a Filipino elected. It's about getting some elected that listens to the Filipino Americans. That's really what it's about," de Castro points out.
 
De Castro had threatened to file a lawsuit if the city did not switch to districts, which many California cities have begun doing this past year.

At the most recent City Council meeting, the city clerk read hundreds of comments from the Filipino American community. With the city council voting unanimously to approve the switch, it will now take the next three months to look into the best way to implement the changes.