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"Big City" Politics Finally Making It To Orange County?

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Orange leaders get plan that boosts minority voting power,0,3812618.story

The advisory committee charged with looking at redistricting for the Orange County Commission as a result of the 2010 census decided to pass along two plans to the county commissioners to decide from: one, which somewhat preserves the status quo and continues to ignore the burgeoning Hispanic population of the county and a second plan proposed by the public which increases the number of Hispanics in one district while slightly improving the number of black voters in another. The likely result would be the election of at least one Hispanic commissioner in the county.

OC has shown promising flashes of diversity in the last couple of decades (including electing a Cuban-American mayor, Mel Martinez, in 1998 - although Mel was even more of a bubba than I am - and our first African-American sheriff in 2008 ). The county, Orlando, OCPS and Lynx have all had blacks and women in top and/or senior-level positions, but have lagged in Hispanic appointments. We've also seen impressive progress in equality for our gay/lesbian/bisexual citizens (stay tuned for the transgender folks).

The ball's now been tossed to the county commissioners to do the right thing. If they do, it will serve as one more indicator that we realize we're now one of the top 25 metro areas in the country and that all voices are expected to be heard in the rough and tumble of big city politics.

When I hear folks moan about why a place like Orlando thinks it needs to spend money on amenities such as arts centers, stadiums, rail and the like, I always ask them to name a top 25 metro area that doesn't have such things (of course, they usually have no clue and even if they did they would be hard-pressed to name one). That's also true of the change in how our politics work. Hopefully, the commissioners won't disappoint us.

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