Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group in the largest state of the union. Today, nearly 40 percent of all California residents are of Latino origin – a number that will only grow over the coming decades. The future of California and the future of its Latino population are one in the same. But when we look at some of the economic and political trends among California’s 14 million Latino residents, there are troubling signs for our community, and for our state’s future.
The municipal elections in Los Angeles County on March 7th marked the first set of elections in California since the historic November election. Unfortunately, much of the energy that spurred the record turnout of new and minority voters did not translate to the off-cycle, down ticket races.
On the contrary, LA saw a significantly low turnout of fewer than 17 percent. After the county published the first round of returns, it was remarked that there are twice as many dogs in LA County than voters who participated in the March election.
Of the 261 candidates competing in one of LA County’s several municipal races on Tuesday, 85 candidates had a Latino surname, 19 of whom were sitting incumbents. Twenty-seven went on to win their race, and another two will head to a runoff.
Latinos experienced a win rate almost identical to their existing representation – currently standing at around 32 percent countywide. Coincidentally, exactly half of the women who won their election on Tuesday were women of color – specifically, Latina.
The City of Norwalk elected Latinos to all three of its seats, two of whom are women and In South Gate, the election of Al Rios and Denise Dias will establish the city’s likely first all-Latino council. Laurie Guillen’s displacement of Gene Daniels in Paramount placed the city at just 1 seat away from a Latino majority.
While Latino candidates fared well in these cities, it was not the case in La Mirada, a newly districted city under the Voting Rights Act. John Lewis cruised to victory in newly drawn District 1, with 33.97 percent of all votes. He defeated the only Latino candidate to file for this seat, Diane Gramajo, by 7.6 percent with 340 votes to 264 votes. District 1 is the only district with a majority Latino population.
- LA County’s municipal races featured 85 candidates with a Latino surname, which accounts for around 32% of all qualified candidates.
- A total of 29 Latino candidates – including 12 newcomers – won their election outright on Tuesday or will advance to a runoff.
- Latinas comprised only 32 percent of all Latino candidates, but represented half of all women who won their election or advanced to a runoff
- 32% of Latino candidates successfully won election or advanced to a runoff; this is proportionally identical to the current representation percentage countywide