Mayor Tom Tait: Unrest brings up issues

From the OC Register: 

In the months leading up to the civil unrest, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, 54, said he was already reaching out to Anaheim's working-class neighborhoods to address gang violence and a series of police-involved shootings reported in recent years. Earlier this year, Tait launched the "Year of Kindness" initiative in an attempt to mend the city's wounds.

Mayor Tom Tait

Mayor Tom Tait

How has Anaheim been affected by the unrest?

Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, who wants better representation for Latinos in Anaheim's city government, looks out into the city from his office.

Just days after violence erupted in downtown Anaheim, Tait met with several Anna Drive residents who expressed their distrust of the Police Department and their displeasure with local government – particularly the city's longstanding practice of holding at-large elections. More than half of Anaheim's residents are Latino, but all five members of the City Council are white.

"It was an eye-opening experience, and a realization of the underlying problems we have here," Tait said.

Since then, Tait has pushed for creating City Council districts as a way to bolster representation of the city's minority populations. He has also called for creating an independent, civilian-based review board to examine policies and allegations of misconduct within the Police Department.

Earlier this month, the City Council approved an ordinance that would allow candidates to run for council districts where they live, but voters across the city would cast ballots for each council seat. On June 3, voters will decide whether to adopt a measure that calls for maintaining this hybrid of at-large and district elections.

Tait opposes the plan, saying council members should be elected solely by voters within the districts they represent.

"The shootings and unrest were a catalyst for other issues that need to be addressed," Tait said. "I think a government that's closer to the people is a better government, and hopefully we're getting closer to that."