2 incumbents drawn out in final City Council maps advanced by redistricting commission

Councilwomen Cindy Allen and Stacy Mungo Flanigan are poised to be drawn out of their districts if the Long Beach Independent Redistricting Commission keeps the course it set Wednesday night.

After its final map-drawing meeting, the commission has selected just two possible maps, which will now head to a Nov. 18 meeting where the commission will need nine votes to adopt the final boundaries that will govern City Council races for the next 10 years.

The two maps are largely similar. Both have the Port of Long Beach split between two districts with a vertically longer Westside district sharing the complex with a new Downtown district that extends east to Alamitos Avenue and envelopes the entire Downtown entertainment district.

A screenshot of one of the two maps advanced by the Redistricting Commission Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.

Both maps also have a horizontal district that spans from Bixby Knolls in the west to El Dorado Park in the east. They both also effectively remove two incumbent councilwomen from their current districts unless there are dramatic changes next week.

Allen, who was elected in November 2020, will be allowed to serve out the remainder of her current term without having to move into what will become the new 2nd District. However, if she wants to seek reelection in 2024 she would need to establish residency in the new district boundaries, which shifted east and would now include the Zaferia District, Bluff Park and Bluff Heights.

Mungo Flanigan would have to make a move sooner. Her 5th District seat is up for election in June 2022. Because the deadline to declare candidacy for the June 2022 election is March 11, Mungo Flanigan would have to move into the new 5th District by Feb. 9 to comply with the city’s election laws.

Wednesday night’s contentious meeting lasted nearly eight hours. Commission Chair Alejandra Gutierrez noted before the meeting started that difficult decisions were about to be made despite the commission’s attempts to conserve and unify as many neighborhoods as possible.

“There are parts of our city that redistricting can’t fix,” Gutierrez said.

A screenshot of the second final map that will be considered at the Nov. 18 meeting.

The commission needed to advance at least one map to the Nov. 18 meeting, where it can make minor tweaks to the map before taking an “up or down” vote on it. Because the councilwomen’s homes are in areas of the map that would require major shifts to draw them back into their districts, it’s unlikely that can be accomplished without a new meeting being scheduled.

Maps need to be available for public review for at least a week before being adopted. Detailed versions of the proposed maps were not immediately available Thursday morning. The commission has until Dec. 7 to adopt a map for use in the 2022 elections.

Mungo Flanigan and Allen could not be immediately reached for comment.

At Wednesday’s meeting, small changes were made to the lone map that the commission had been giving consistent consideration. One change reestablished the legal neighborhood boundary of Bluff Park’s historic district before it was added to what will likely become the new 2nd District.

The inclusion of Bluff Park, Bluff Heights and Carroll Park was a sore point for some residents who demanded that those communities be included with the rest of the present-day 3rd District.

Donna Sievers, president of the Bluff Heights Neighborhood Association, questioned if someone was mad at the Bluff neighborhoods, comparing it to post-World War II Poland, which was divided up among multiple countries in the mid-1940s.

The second map that was advanced was essentially a clone of the first, the only difference being in the composition of Bixby Knolls. The clone map has most of Bixby Knolls combined with neighborhoods east of Long Beach Airport. To make the population distribution more even, that version of the map put the entire Los Cerritos neighborhood and Virginia Country Club back into the present-day 8th District.

A large push was made Wednesday to try and introduce a community-drawn map that had been circulated around the city. Despite efforts to drum up support, the map ultimately was not considered at Wednesday’s meeting.

The map titled “2.2” would have put Allen back in her district and split the Downtown area more closely to how it’s currently divided. The map received pushback from some members of the public who said it was a political attempt to save the councilwoman from being drawn out.

The commissioners opted to stay with the maps it had worked to draw over the course of the past few weeks. If all proceeds normally, they’ll choose one of the two as the final boundaries at their Nov. 18 meeting.

“All of the maps that we’re discussing have become community and a collaborative map,” Commissioner Sharon Diggs-Jackson said in response to the idea that commissioners should consider a community-submitted map. “None of them have advanced in isolation.”

The commission is scheduled to meet Thursday, Nov. 18 at City Hall where it could select a final map that the city will then forward to Los Angeles County election officials for use in the 2022 elections.

Editors note: The story has been updated with a screenshot of the second final map under consideration.

What happens if an incumbent City Council member is drawn out of their district?

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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