Loma Linda moves to change ‘racially polarized’ election system – San Bernardino Sun

Elections for Loma Linda City Council members will likely become dramatically different after a lawyer called the city’s election system “racially polarized” and threatened litigation.

Voters currently elect councilmembers at-large, which means every voter gets to weigh in on every candidate. That system, lawyer Kevin Shenkman told the city in a letter received May 31, results in minority vote dilution and therefore violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.

With no discussion in open session the council on Tuesday, June 28, voted unanimously to spend $30,000 for legal services and up to $30,250 to develop and implement a representative plan for voting districts so equal portions of the city will get to elect one council member each.

Some agencies have fought back after similar challenges, but “the courts have consistently found in favor of the district format to reflect minority representation on elected boards,” staff told the council in a written report.

In the six years leading up to 2020, 151 cities in the state had shifted to district elections.

In 2015, Palmdale paid $4.7 million to settle a lawsuit Shenkman filed, and as of this month Santa Monica has spent more than $8 million on litigation that was also initiated by the Malibu lawyer.

Closer to home, the Highland City Council was sued by Shenkman and a Superior Court judge ordered the city to abandon citywide elections in favor of district-based elections. The city held its first district-based election in 2016.

Yucaipa established district-based elections in 2016 to avoid being sued like neighboring Highland.

Cities up and down the state have been sued or threatened with lawsuits, including Modesto, Compton, Whittier, Escondido, Orange, Cypress and Desert Hot Springs.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *