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Punjabi community and other community members celebrate new approved redistricting map

“I am seen."
Bakersfield City Council (FILE)
Posted at 10:59 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-07 02:24:52-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield City Council approved new ward lines and community members call it a historic win.

City Council Chambers were packed with community members all in support of this Map 5B.

Members of the Punjabi Sikh community wanted this map because it would keep them in wards 5 and 7.

“It’s the first time redistricting for me, the Sikh community has had a voice and is going to get to be heard and our needs will be met, so it’s very historic,” said Raji Brar, Bakersfield Sikh Women’s Association.

At Wednesday night’s city council meeting, the members approved Map 5B that was submitted by the public and evolved with staff input.

At the public hearing on March 16, this map was voted to move forward, and was the only one map up for consideration before the state deadline on April 17.

Lori Pesante with the Delores Huerta Foundation said this is has been a collaborative process from the start.

“The community has not missed a single hearing, a single community education session, a single opportunity to raise their voices.”

Redrawing district lines happens every ten years to help keep areas balanced and representative of the community as a whole.

The only person who spoke in opposition to the map, was Pastor Angelo Frazier saying it would divide communities based on ethnicity.

“I came out of segregation, I know what it looks like, this is re-segregation once again. When I came to this city 30 years ago, I didn’t look for a Black community, or white community, or an Asian community, I just looked for a community to be in and that’s what it should be about.”

People from the Sikh, Latino and African American communities packed the chambers and came out to make their voices heard.

Nearly 20 community members spoke in favor of the map, mainly those from the Punjabi community.

Community members said the vote is important because it will have an impact on governance for the next decade.

“I am seen, my children know they’re being seen, because they just watched about 20 speakers like them make a change,” said Brar.

The City of Bakersfield said these new ward lines come into effect next month.