Tustin Unified OKs district map that could pit incumbents against each other – Orange County Register


Tustin Unified board members approved one of four by-trustee map proposals on Monday, July 10. (Courtesy of Tustin Unified School District)

Tustin Unified School District board members have unanimously approved a by-trustee map that could pit two of them against one another in 2020.

Starting in the 2018 election, board members will run within precincts according to their home addresses rather than district-wide.

Trustees on Monday, July 10, reviewed four potential maps labeled cranberry, green, orange and teal. In two of the maps, all five trustees live in different precincts — meaning they would never face off against one another in an election. Those plans, in particular, sparked complaints on social media of “gerrymandering” to preserve the status quo.

In the other two maps — orange and teal — James Laird and Francine Scinto would vie for “Area 2” in 2020 should they choose to run. Both trustees are residents of unincorporated North Tustin. The maps each would leave “Area 4” — home to largely Latino neighborhoods bordering the 5 and 55 Freeways — open to a newcomer in three years.

Trustees ultimately approved the orange map.

Before the vote on Monday, Laird noted that boundaries in two of the proposals seem painstakingly devised to protect incumbents.

“Francine (Scinto) and I live very close together,” Laird said. “I think I can throw a rock and hit her house. This gives the appearance that the maps were drawn for my own benefit, and for Francine’s.”

Scinto said that all four maps were “reasonable” and acknowledged that she would prefer not to run against her neighbor. Still, she agreed with her colleagues that orange “best represents the Latino community.”

The district hired Glendale-based National Demographics Corp. to design map options that would meet legal requirements.

Civil rights advocates have argued that at-large elections often violate the California Voters Rights Act by diluting the minority voice. In…

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