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San Diego’s black population shrank by more than 8,000 people in the last decade, to about 88,000. That decrease threatened to dilute African-Americans’ voting power in the 4th City Council District, considered the council’s safe black seat. The Redistricting Commission’s proposed map of new districts, however, helps African-Americans hang onto that seat.

The proposed district, currently represented by Council President Tony Young, would lose some heavily Latino neighborhoods and bump up the black population from 19 percent to 20 percent.

That outcome has primarily been the work of resident Barry Pollard, who challenged Young in last year’s election, but lost. Since then, he has been leading the effort to lobby the Redistricting Commission to increase black voting power in the 4th District even as blacks have slipped to its third largest ethnic group, after Latinos and Asians.

Pollard’s efforts were aided by a peculiarity of this year’s redistricting process: the addition of a new 9th district. Rather than grow, each of the existing eight council districts had to shrink to free up enough people to populate the new district. That meant District 4 had to lose some neighborhoods.

“We focused on the neighborhoods that were roughly 70-80 percent Latino,” Pollard said. In the map adopted by the Redistricting Commission, the district’s southwestern Mount Hope and Mountain View neighborhoods will become part of the new 9th District, which will be majority Latino.

Eligible Latino voters will still slightly outnumber eligible black voters in the new 4th District. But even though signs of the district’s shrinking black and growing Latino populations are evident in businesses and churches across the district, there is still little political mobilization among Latinos.

“There is going to come a time when that representative is not African-American because a whole lot of black folks are leaving,” Pollard said. “The thing we need to focus on is getting people to the polls. If we do that, we’ll hold onto the African-American seat for probably the next ten years. If we don’t, then we won’t. It’s really that simple.”

The Redistricting Commission is seeking public input on its proposed map at a series of public hearings this week and next. For more information on the hearings, visit the commission’s website.

Adrian Florido is a reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He covers San Diego’s neighborhoods. What should he write about next?

Contact him directly at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido.

Adrian Florido

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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