Latino group speaks out against gerrymandering

Posted: May 06, 2011

LatinoLines, a new coalition of Philadelphia's Latino leaders and activists, is champing at the bit to fix what it calls the "illegal" gerrymandering of the city's 7th Council District.

"It's election season and we want to let everyone know who's running that the Latino growth in this city is serious," said the group's leader, former Councilman at large Angel Ortiz. "We're not going anywhere and we're going to keep on growing." He said that the coalition will propose a new Council district, as well as two state House districts to the respective legislative bodies. The Latino populations have grown in the areas, according to the 2010 census figures.

Ortiz was accompanied by other members, including Nilda Ruiz, president of Asociacion Puertorriquenos en Marcha, and Patricia DeCarlo, executive director of the Norris Square Civic Association.

Gerrymandering is the drawing of district lines to gain or retain an electoral advantage.

Ortiz said that gerrymandering in 2001, led by the Democratic Party to "protect their incumbencies," meant pulling white residents from the Northeast into the 7th District and giving the Feltonville and other Latino areas to the 5th District. That ensured that "the Puerto Rican/Latino community would not have the majority of the votes and be able to control who gets elected in the district," Ortiz said. Maria Quinones-Sanchez, the city's first Latina lawmaker, faces a tough challenge from Dan Savage in the May 17 primary for the 7th District seat.

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