Chico’s City Council candidates fail to represent minority populations


Photo credit: Jaime Munoz

The United States government is slowly progressing at including men and women from minority backgrounds in elected positions. However, Chico has failed to fulfill this gap as there still continues to be an absence of racial and ethnic minority representatives running for City Council.

A City Councilor bridges the gap between a certain area of a town and helps make decisions around the community. By taking an active role in establishing city priorities, city councilors ensure that diversity is adequately represented throughout city government. They also pave the ordinances and legislation for current and future plans that will benefit Chico.

However, how can locals expect that the all white candidates will understand what benefits an entire community when they don’t entirely understand our struggles as minorities. While 74 percent of Chico’s population is white, according to DataUSA, 16.3 percent of Chico citizens are Hispanic and 4.1 percent are Asian. Not to mention Chico is on Mechoopda land, which is an issue isn’t typically brought up by the white majority too often.

These minority percentages aren’t represented in our local or national politics. In a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau’s in 2012, 82 percent of those who say they have ever run for office are white.

The question floats in the air why there is a lack of women, minorities or ethnic groups running for council? Research suggest women and minorities remain under-represented in U.S. politics for reasons like gender bias and thus are less likely to be contracted by the major parties.

A study conducted in 2010 by Loyola Marymount and American University found that 29 percent of woman with similar qualifications as men who run for office feel that they are less likely to label themselves as “very qualified” for office. While these women may have concerns that they will face gender bias in the political arena, there is evidence that female legislators can be more effective.

On the other hand, candidates from racial and ethnic minorities face prejudice that harm their chances and the eagerness of being motivated to participate in politics.

It is rare, even impossible to hear a white population fight a daily battle against deportation or discrimination based on the color of their skin. From that, I feel that the Chico community members are not fully aware of the beneficial impact their voices hold. It’s a shame that there were no nominations for ethnic minorities to care for the beautiful city of Chico. Maybe there weren’t enough minorities that tried to get the signatures needed to be put on the city council ballot. But we need more to step forward politically and we need more support from the white majority to help minorities get adequate representation in town hall.

I do appreciate those who want to make the difference and make an impact in our future. Having more minority candidates can be symbolic toward a more equal future for Chico. These candidates can show locals the social impact minorities can bring to our city. I would love to see more representation for minorities in Chico in the near future as it’s frustrating to see only white candidates run for office chairs.

Karen Limones can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

*Alex Grant also contributed some research links and context for this article*