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Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson enacts new aldermanic districts in Milwaukee, Latino leaders concerned

Jocasta Zamarripa
Maayan Silver
Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa

Updated at 4 p.m. CDT

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson signed off on Milwaukee's new aldermanic districts Tuesday. In a statement, Johnson wrote he did so with "mixed emotions."

"On the one hand, I am pleased the City of Milwaukee has met the legal deadline to establish new aldermanic district boundaries. That was accomplished with unusual hurdles and delays beyond the city's control," he said. "However, I am disappointed that legal direction from the City Attorney has limited our ability to align our aldermanic districts in a way that fully and equitably addresses Milwaukee's growing Hispanic population."

Johnson added the deadline left him "without options" and looks "forward to continued dialogue to ensure everyone is fully represented in our city's decision-making going forward.”

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the redistricting plan was approved by the Common Council Tuesday.

Then-Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett vetoed the plan last month, after objections from local Latino groups. But a council committee revived the plan this month, after City Attorney Tearman Spencer said alternative maps would potentially be illegal.

Last Friday, the Latino organizations held a news conference asking for another delay in the line-drawing process. Ald. JoCasta Zamarripa said Monday that she agrees the current city plan would short-change representation for the growing Latino population by not carving out a third majority or near-majority Latino district on the south side.

"It is a slap in the face to the fastest-growing constituency across the state of Wisconsin and the fastest-growing constituency in Milwaukee, both the county and the city," Zamarripa said.

Latinos now make up 20% of Milwaukee's population, yet presently only occupy about 14% of Common Council seats.

Zamarripa noted she was present at a city ceremony honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "I just think we need to follow the example he set and fight for voters, for people of color, for encouraging them to vote, for trying to get people more access to the ballot and to the polls," she said.

Zamarripa wanted the Common Council to get an outside legal opinion on the redistricting proposal.

At least one group, Forward Latino, said passing the current city redistricting plan could open the door to a lawsuit.

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