Wednesday night the Bakersfield City Council voted to adopt map 5B submitted by the Jakara Movement.
“We’re finally going to have our Punjabi community united as well as the Latino community, and the historical Black community. We’re keeping everybody together. This is a historical win,” said Harveen Kaur of the Jakara Movement.
The two maps that were to be chosen from were maps 2B and the Unity map revised visions being called 2C and 5B. The Jakara movement and other local organizations advocated for map 5B and said that it’s best to keep communities together and that map 2C will result in the city being sued.
Keeping communities together is included in the decision-making because of the Fair Maps Act that adopted communities of interest. Communities of interest include Latinos, Asians, and African Americans.
Julia Gomez from ACLU SoCal spoke against map 2C stating that it will violate the Fair Maps Act.
Raji Brar CEO of the Sikh Women’s Association spoke in favor of map 5B and said she has gotten calls from the community telling her not to let them be split up and their voice be cut in half.
“Communities of interest are split and separated which goes against the spirit of redistricting,” said Manpreet Kaur from the Jakara Movement.
Members from the Punjabi, Latino and other communities continued this concern for wanting to stay united. They also described map 5B as the only map that will keep the communities together and give them their voice.
“There’s only one map that gives the broadest most meaningful voice to Bakersfield’s communities of color, the Unity map, map 5B,” said Traco Matthews. “A vote for that map not only fulfills the legal requirements of the city but also fulfills an ethical mandate we have to maximize the voices of those who have historically not been heard.”
After all of the public comments, the council was given time to give their input. Andrae Gonzales gave his support to map 5B and explained that he believes it is the best map for the community and motioned for it to be adopted.
Councilmember Chris Parlier and Eric Arias also spoke of wanting to do the best for the communities that they represent and believing that map 5B should be moved forward.
Once the motion was adopted the chambers erupted in cheer. The emotion-filled group then moved outside to express their gratitude amongst each other and encourage each other to keep fighting for what they believe in.
“It’s such a historic day for our community and so many communities of color. I think we set a great precedent today and I’m hoping other communities follow suit. I’m so appreciative of our council members that supported us,” said Brar.
They also spoke to the youth present encouraging them to take the lead and continue being the voice their community needs.