"Most Powerful Pages on The Planet"
Irving Minorities Fight for Change and Equal Representation
United Effort Seeks Signatures to Bring Single-Member District Proposal to Ballot
IRVING- More diversity and equal representation for Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities has citizens in Irving pushing for a May election that could not only make history and change city government, but also rewrite the city’s future.
The petition drive, led by Irving NAACP founder Anthony Bond and a group of Black, Hispanic and White supporters fight for the changes, is gaining steam on the way to reaching a goal of garnering 4,500 registered voter signatures needed to force city officials to hold a referendum on the issue. So far, the group has collected over 3,500 signatures and expects to reach their goal working polls on Election Day.
“We are fighting to get a government in Irving that is more reflective of the people living in Irving,” Bond said. “This is the most important initiative happening in this city because people want diversity and a government by the people and a system that works for all the people.”
Irving is a city of 201,927 it is the 3rd largest city in Dallas County and the13th largest in the state of Texas. The city is represented by a city council that does not reflect the more than 60-percent population of minorities, including Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic groups.
Irving trails all cities in the Dallas/Fort Worth in efforts to create opportunities and diversity in government for minorities.
Cities like Plano, Arlington and Grand Prairie already have systems in place to ensure the voice of every citizen in heard and issues from that community addressed.
Having single-member districts in Irving would break the traditional all White Country Club culture that currently exists at Irving City Hall.
That setting at city hall has been a buffer to Black and Hispanic progress and stifled the voice of many who feel that the current group of representatives is a closed system that does not work for all its citizens.
This concern and lack of representation sparked litigation by citizen and LULAC activist Manual Benavides over the lack of Hispanic representation on the city council in Irving. In his suit, he calls for radical changes through the courts that would end the current system and mandate eight single-member districts and an At-Large mayoral seat.
Under Bond’s proposal, the petition for single-member district calls for a charter amendment that would call for the mayor to be elected by all qualified voters and for the city to have eight council seats. Of those eight seats, Places 6, 7 and 8 would be elected at large and five other seats, Places 1 through 5, would be elected by voters from those respective districts where they are candidates.
One the affidavit, voters must sign their name and provide street address and valid information about voter registration number, zip code and phone number.
Bond said his proposal provides a more fair and balanced way to bring about equal access and representation for all citizens in Irving.
“We have broad based support for this from Blacks, Whites, Asians and Hispanics,” he said. “It is time for change. This is 2008 and having all White representation in a city that is majority minority is ridiculous.”
Bond said the lack of minority voice and representation has affected every aspect of dealing with minority issues in the city from CBDG money for poor minorities to bidding and getting MWBE contracts to do business with the city.
“The current people at city hall don’t care about poor Blacks and Hispanics and have done nothing to help our communities grow and progress and that’s fact,” he said. “We want every group to have someone to represent their interests on that council and everyone to have someone to represent them.”