MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has vetoed the new Milwaukee aldermanic district map after concerns were raised about its representation of the growing Latinx and Hispanic population.
One in five Milwaukee residents identify as Latinx or Hispanic and that community is the fastest growing population in the city according to 2020 Census data.
In a statement Mayor Tom Barrett said, "Milwaukee's diversity is an undeniable strength... It is only fair that growing populations be afforded political representation proportionate to their size and shared stake in the community."
Forward Latino, Voces de la Frontera and the Hispanic Collaborative said the map put forward by the common council doesn't fairly represent the Latinx and Hispanic population with just two majority districts out of the city's 15.
"We understand how important district boundaries are. It affects quality of representation, it affects policies," said Hispanic Collaborative President Nancy Hernandez. "What they passed and proposed really doesn't reflect the Latino population, both its current growth pattern but especially its future growth pattern."
In the 2021 common council's 2021 district map, that the mayor has now vetoed, districts 8 and 12 are majority Latinx and Hispanic. Activists said districts 11, 13 and 14 split up the growing Latinx and Hispanic population in the city, and that split dilutes the communities voting power.
The three community organizations believe wards from districts from 11, 13 and 14 should be pulled together to create a third majority Latinx and Hispanic district in the city. Voces de la Frontera worked with a UWM professor to create nine different versions of district maps that would create a third majority district.
"And with that, be able to have a greater representation in terms of folks that come from the Latino community and who understand and share and advocate on behalf of the issues that impact our community," said Executive Directore of Voces de la Frontera Christine Neumann-Ortiz.
Activists said a third majority district would also help bring more attention to issues important to the community like immigration and bilingual education.
The three groups also recognized that the timeline the city had to create the new district map was significantly condensed. But now with the mayor's veto and and more time, there's hope for more meaningful dialogue within the community.
Mayor Barrett said he's "confident that Council adoption of revised maps by January 18 is adequate and will not pose challenges to other jurisdictions, nor interfere with elections."
The full Common Council will consider Mayor Barrett's veto at its next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 14.