MALDEF speaks out on Monrovia’s future
The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) has spoken to The Foothill Advocate about what will happen if the Monrovia City Council does not comply with their demands. They allege that Monrovia is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act, and is willing to take the city to court to prove this.
“Right now, the city is electing the council at-large, so the majority of voters is electing the entire council,” Staff Attorney Matthew Barragan said. “In a district-system, this wouldn’t happen.”
If MALDEF wins in court, it will assist in organizing the transition, Barragan said. Community forums will be called, and MALDEF will also assist in drawing the district maps. Although Monrovia will have more control over the process if they voluntarily switch to a district-based system through an ordinance, MALDEF says that it will still be part of the process.
“We’re going to be involved either way,” Barragan said.
MALDEF also stressed that it does not look for potential lawsuits, but waits for residents to step forward. But that hasn’t stopped many Monrovia residents from crying foul.
“It is not up to a union or an advocacy group to decide what is best for Monrovia and its citizens. Monrovia resident Gayle Montgomery said. “That is the choice of Monrovians.”
Others believe that MALDEF can bring positive changes. Although Monrovia resident Victor Castellano says he didn’t contact MALDEF and has no idea who did, he is glad they are involved.
“Every election that has taken place has centered around a couple of people,” Castellano said. “If you’re friends with them, you have a good chance of getting elected.”
He also said that 20 years of watching politics in Monrovia has left him with little faith in leaders’ willingness to change the electoral system without external pressure.
“Why? Because then it would be harder for them to win.”
The Foothill Advocate will continue reporting on this story as it develops.