By Jonathan Goetz; Miriam Raftery also contributed to this article
May 26, 2017 (El Cajon) – Following a lively public hearing on drawing up city council district lines to comply with Voting Rights Act requirements aimed at increasing minority representation, El Cajon’s City council voted 3-2 to adopt Paul Circo’s map PCirco1 for council district elections.
Councilman Ben Kalasho, a Chaldean-American and the only minority on the Council, earlier sent a letter threatening to sue his city if that map was approved and request public records to determine if gerrymandering laws or the Brown Act were violated.
Mayor Bill Wells, Councilmen Gary Kendrick and Bob McClellan voted to approve the map drawn by Circo, a Republican who ran for Council in 2016. Councilmembers Steve Goble and Kalasho voted against it. The district election map chosen squares Kalasho off against fellow Councilman Kendrick, who also lives in Fletcher Hills, on the opposite side of Parkway Plaza. It also pairs Councilmembers Steve Goble and Bob McClellan, leaving two other districts that will be open seats. The Mayor will continue to be elected at-large by all voters in the city.
The plan chosen creates three majority minority districts. Two have 70% minorities and a third has 51% . The minority definition used is broad, including language minorities such as Arabic speakers as well as all classes protected under state and federal Voting Rights Acts.