Tuesday, December 26, 2017

2 Majority Latino Districts Controversy 2012 Email From Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West Resurfaces

An email that was released several days before the 2012 Milwaukee County 12th District Supervisor election in 2012 has resurfaced where Supervisor West gave her opinion about 2 majority Latino districts and has never been addressed by West until today.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

December 26, 2017

Milwaukee, WI - On Monday, Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West responded to an email currently circulating in Facebook that was released several days before the 2012 County Board elections sent to Harold Mester, the Public Information Manager from Milwaukee County expressing her concerns and opinion about 2 majority Latino districts involving the 12th and 4th Supervisor Districts before the 2012 elections. Supervisor West posted multiple comments concerning the email in Robert Miranda's Facebook account on Monday.
On Friday, Supervisor West released the following statement to Miranda who is backing her re-election and was sent to Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA).

Peggy West response: "Well its true? The 2nd Latino influence district we have now is Weisgan's district. Again a Latino has never run for that seat so they are making it seem like Marina & I "fixed" the map to keep our seats. We had nothing to do with the map. Again, we added a 2nd influence district which has not affected representation so how am I suppressing that?"

The following statements were posted on Miranda's post comment thread.

Peggy West comments on Robert Miranda''s post thread dated 12/25/2017

"We have not 1, but 2 Latino Majority/influence districts by the next redistricting, we could add another. I am not understanding the confusion of my support for them? There were multiple maps to vote on & we created one with a Hispanic majority(12) & a Hispanic Influence( Marina Dimitrijevic) in fact the amendment that created those districts, I authored with Marina after the original information we received saying that Marina's district could not be an influence district based on voting age was proved false. I don't recall anyone asking for anything more than that? Why are we not discussing how we could have 1 majority & 2 influence at the city level but the Alderman representing those districts did not support it & its never been brought up again? Why aren't we still discussing this in 2018?"

"Well that I understand and I'm more confused now because Marina Dimitrijevic and I authored the amendment for the Hispanic Majority districts together & she's been a champion of the Hispanic Community(which I agree she has) but I have not been? Which I will need an explanation on. It also states I lost supporters in 2011 over this yet I was endorsed by both Voces de la Frontera & Citizen Action in the 2012 elections?"

"Always have been opposed to Voter ID, co-sponsored free birth certificates to assist people getting an ID to go vote. Further more, its a revelation that Mrs. Ortiz-Velez provided the "smoking gun" because according to "the Hispanic Conservative" it was Joe Sanfelippo. Sanfelippo received the same information that we did the difference is Marina & I did an amendment to create those districts. The information we got from STAFF told us that we were NOT given correct information originally but AGAIN, we corrected it. This is not the first time in County Gov't that staff has made a mistake but has come back to help correct it. The Co. Exec. Staff does it every year in the budget."

"The email to Harold Mester you are referring to expresses my confusion as to why we are still discussing Latino Majority districts when we PASSED an amendment to have them again after being provided the proper information. I was never against them, I was informed as was Marina, incorrectly that it could not be done, once we knew it could be, it was. I don't understand how that is seen as opposition? By anyone?"

In April 2011, nearly 5,000 in Latino population were removed from the 4th Supervisor County District and moved to the 12th Supervisor District, and a ward with 5,000 Whites were moved into the 4th District from the Milwaukee downtown area. The move circumvented the original district map that was being proposed by community redistricting concerned citizens and Sylvia Ortiz-Velez who was monitoring the redistricting process noticed the change. Ortiz-Velez has declared to be a candidate in the 12th Supervisor District, which would be her second time to challenge West for the seat. Supervisor West has also filed a declaration of candidacy for re-election. HNNUSA in 2011 contacted Ortiz-Velez about the redistricting issue and what the Milwaukee County Redistricting Committee (MCRC) intended to do. Ortiz-Velez provided stats and information to HNNUSA showing that the MCRC, which Supervisor West was a member had moved removed nearly 5,000 Latinos from the 4th District and added 5,000 Whites to the 4th District. Today, West hasn't been able to explain why in 2011, nearly 5,000 Latinos were removed from the 4th District and replaced by 5,000 Whites. 
Once the HNNUSA article on June 2011 was published to expose the reduction of Latino population in the 4th District, it created public pressure to fix it and to add Latinos instead of removing them from the 4th District. The MCRC had no choice, but to redo the redistricting that assure a portion of Latinos remained in the 4th District and the redistricting plan was later approved by the MCRC and the County Board of Supervisors.
The redistricting issue and majority Latino districts could resurface again, if the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the Republican Gerrymandering case and could affect Wisconsin redistricting. The Latino community needs public elected officials that support majority Latino voting districts to ensure voter empowerment.

Sylvia Ortiz-Velez responded to Robert Miranda's post on 12/25/2017 and posted the following comments.

"Robert, I am suprised that with your long career as a writer and editor of the Spanish Journal, that you shared a post by Mr. Abel Ortiz, that is inaccurate. Just in case you overlooked your investigative tools, I want you to know that, I have only ran once, five years ago.  One of the concern by many, is that Mrs. West did not support Two Hispanic Majority Districts at the County.  Let's be fair, since you posted Aaron article, it even states that, seems like you are cherry picking.  What the article doesn't reveal is that,  I am the reason why we have two hispanic majority seats.  I have never taken credit for it until now.  Also I support two legislative assembly districts, as well, that are hispanic voting age majority, which is stated in the article, which I am sure you can agree.  I also worked very hard to ensure two hispanic majority seats at the Common Council, which I gave public testimony in.   I am against the current Republican Voter I.d. bill because it promotes  voter suppression, as filed in a recent lawsuit, because citizens without proper documentation are not allowed to vote.   As you know Robert only U.S. citizens, by federal law, are allowed to vote."

"I am the one who found the redistricting data in June or July of 2011, ie the smoking gun, while researching. I thought long and hard for three days.  What to do.  I knew that if I brought it up, people might make it a political football and our community would not get the second majority seat.   So, I handed the information off, put my community first, and took no credit for finding it,   Once the data and the action was exposed it forced the committee and board to go back and redistrict and we got the second Majority seat.  Thanks to me now  reporters,  and groups of Latinos, now had the data, which forced the board to fix it or face a lawsuit.   To give some background, this email was found 2 or 3 days before, the election in 2012. Many people supporting Mrs. West, were upset and felt betrayed.  All the while Mrs. West assured many people that she indeed was fighting for our community in 2011 when the redistricting occurred.  .  Once again, having a hispanic, majority seat ensures more voter participation and that whomever is in the seat, that they will champion, issues important to us, which Marina has done. I am grateful to her for that.   I can substaintiate everything I have stated here."

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