According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters -
" Every 10 years, the United States Constitution and California’s State Constitution require federal, state and local district divisional boundary lines to be reviewed and redrawn, if necessary, to account for population growth and movement within the entire boundaries of the district. This process is known as and is based on the results of the decennial US Census.
The results of the redistricting process may change the congressional, state senate or assembly district or local supervisorial, city council or school district subdivision elections in order to have equal representation."
Currently, the San Jose Redistricting Advisory Commission is tasked of recommending boundary options that would have equal representation for San Jose residents. The committee is holding public hearings and asking for inputs from residents. Ultimately the City Council will vote to approve / disapprove the recommendations of the committee and an ordinance establishing new city council district boundaries.
San Jose City is currently the 10th largest city in the US with a population of 1,013,240 according the 2020 Census. Asian is the largest racial group for the first time representing 35.9%. Hispanic population is 31.6% and white alone / non-Hispanic is 25.7%. And yet the city has not a single Asian American on the City Council representing 10 total districts. There are currently 5 Hispanic city councilmembers which represent 50% of the City Council seats.
The demographic profiles of each of the 10 districts and the respective current representatives might shed light into why there are such lack of representation by Asian-American community. Since the 2020 demographic profile data are not available yet from the city staff, we will use the 2010 data which can provide adequate background to gain some insights into the current political representation.
Presently, there are three minority-majority districts where Latino is the majority and hence have Hispanic elected officials. District 5 is traditionally a Hispanic district with all of its elected officials are Latino in the last 20 years. Four other minority-majority district where White is the majority and the elected officials are white (3) and black (1). Districts 8 and 4 are mostly Asian demographic but the voters elected Hispanic and White candidates. This leave District 2 where Hispanic and White are split equally with Asian trailing. It is not a surprise to see a Latino elected but that district can go either way base on the demographic distribution, White or Latino with Asian as swing vote.
The current lack of political representation by Asian-American despite their high voter turnout can be contributed to a number of factors; but the fact of the matter is with the current demographic distributions, there are 3 minority-major districts of Latino, 4 minority-majority districts for White, and only 2 for Asian. District 2 has an equal majority of White and Hispanic residents.
Asian-American community has been so far not actively mobilized to address the inequality demographic distribution between districts and the lack of representation. Nevertheless, the commission should study the issue, understand the legitimate concerns under the Voting Right Act, and recommend new boundaries to reflect the population demographic so that a fair representation can be achieved for the Asian-American community.