Councilman Kevin de Leon Wednesday named Sonja Francine Diaz, a civil rights attorney in Los Angeles, as the Council District 14 representative on the city’s redistricting commission.
The 21-member panel is responsible for redrawing the 15 City Council districts and the seven covering the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“Sonja has long been an advocate for equity in Los Angeles, using her voice to protect the civil rights of countless Angelenos,” de Leon said. “As we redraw the invisible lines that unite our diverse districts into a cohesive city, Sonja’s leadership and deep knowledge of the Voting Rights Act will be critical to ensuring more equal and reflective representation, not just for CD 14 but for the entire city of L.A.”
Diaz is the founding director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the first multi-issue policy think-tank focused on Latinos at the University of California.
She served on the executive staff of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris during her first and second terms as attorney general of California and directed voter protection programs in Virginia during the 2016 election.
Diaz has also managed domestic policy portfolios at three California nonprofits and clerked in the White House’s Domestic Policy Council under then-President Barack Obama.
In September, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced the first-ever model principles for drawing City Council districts in what he said will be a fairer and more accountable way.
The principles Feuer presented are based on criteria adopted by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, as well as those included in the City Charter, which are:
— districts shall comply with the U.S. Constitution and achieve population equality as nearly as practicable;
— districts shall comply with the Voting Rights Act;
— the geographic integrity of neighborhood council boundaries or local communities of interest shall be respected in a manner that minimizes their division to the extent possible without violating any of the preceding provisions. A community of interest is a contiguous population which shares common social and economic interests;
— to the extent practicable, and when this does not conflict with the criteria above, districts shall be drawn to encourage geographical compactness, such that nearby areas of population are not bypassed for more distant populations;
— the place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate shall not be considered in the creation of a map. Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate or political party; and
— the place of residence of any incumbent or political candidate shall not be considered in the creation of a map. Districts shall not be drawn for the purpose of favoring or discriminating against an incumbent, political candidate or political party.
Redistricting takes place the year following the completion of the U.S. Census.