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Punjabi community voices opinions on redistricting map in city council meeting

It would keep the Punjabi community in two wards.
Jakara Movement.png
Posted at 10:38 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 02:52:47-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The City of Bakersfield is one step closer to finalizing a map based on data from the latest census, and the map moving forward is what community members showed their support for.

Members of the Punjabi Sikh community wanted this map because it would keep them just in Wards 5 and 7 and felt like it could help them be better represented.

It was a full chamber at Wednesday night’s city council meeting, as community members came out to show their support for one of the proposed maps, 5B.

At the meeting, that draft map was approved in a 4-2 vote, to move forward.

“The Punjabi community rolls deep. Anytime that we need support, and just any kind of resources we want, we’ll all band together united and in that, “ekta” which translates to unity and so really excited.”

Harveen Kaur with the Jakara Movement, an organization that helped push map 5B because it would keep the Punjabi community in two wards, instead of divided into four.

“We want to keep everybody together, because with collective power comes strength. With that strength comes a lot of deciding factors in terms of who your representatives are, which resources are allocated to your community, all of that is directly impacted through this redistricting process.”

Community members came out to show their support, 30 people requested to speak, all against draft map 2C or in favor of draft map 5B.

“Map 5B will keep the Sikh community together, and by doing so, our elected officials will be able to better assess and address our culturally appropriate needs and in turn be able to provide a culturally appropriate resources in a more efficient and effective manner,” said Raji Brar.

Others added that this map would not just help the Punjabi community, but also other communities of color that feel underrepresented.

“A vote for that map not only fulfills the legal requirements of the city but also fulfills the ethical mandate we have to maximize the voices of those who have historically not been heard,” said Traco Matthews.

Punjabi Sikh members from different generations, areas, and backgrounds came together to show council members that they don’t want their community to be split.

“We, the Sikh community, have never had the opportunity to have a united voice even though we work day in and day out to help our city thrive. Tonight, is a night where you can change this.”

At the next city council meeting on April 6, there will be a second reading of draft map 5B and the deadline to approve the map is April 17.