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Voces de la Frontera urges redrawing of Milwaukee's aldermanic districts

Bonnie Petrie
Voces de la Frontera office.

The Milwaukee Common Council is going back to the drawing board to look at the city’s aldermanic districts. Last week, the common council sided with Mayor Tom Barrett’s veto of a proposed aldermanic district map and will reopen the redistricting process for more community input.

This is in part because Latinx activists voiced concerns about political representation on Milwaukee’s south side. Voces de la Frontera was one of the community organizations that pushed for the redrawing of the aldermanic districts.

"We deeply care about Latino voting rights," says Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces de la Frontera.

The organization wants the map to reflect Milwaukee's growing Latinx population and they’re hoping that a third majority Latino/Hispanic district can be added.

Neumann-Ortiz says Voces de la Frontera presented its own map demonstrating how to make a third Latinx majority aldermanic district. The organization is currently looking at the data to see the voting age of the Latinx population within District 13, specifically south of Milwaukee's airport. If they can prove the area has a voting population at or over 51%, the state has to make the area its own district.

She says that with the city-wide map redistricting process, there can be a disconnect between community members and local government officials. Neumann-Ortiz emphasizes the need to tap into community insight and the information they hold.
For example, the map previously passed by the Common Council was set to create two influence districts, Districts 8 and 12, that left the Latino community in a lower percentage point and little influence.

"The city of Milwaukee is a majority people of color city. It's a working class city, multiracial, multiethnic city. That's the strength of our city," says Neumann-Ortiz. "It must have political expression too, and that's what the census is all about. That's what the Voting Rights Law is all about."

She points out that the Latino community has grown 33% statewide. Voces de la Frontera is hoping to connect more Latinx community members to participate in the civic process, such as voting or voicing their opinions on the new aldermanic map.

"Now that those maps are being drawn, and it's an issue of representation, we need to make sure that people who participated in that process are also involved in political expression of their population, and their needs, and their voice, " says Neumann-Ortiz.

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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