A judge submitted a final decision in the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit against Palmdale, reaffirming an earlier mandate for the city to create districts in its City Council election and to host a special election June 3.
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It is up to the Palmdale City Council now to decide whether they want to continue in their losing fight, and waste even more taxpayer funds,” said attorney Kevin Shenkman of Shenkman & Hughes, who’s representing the plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We still hope that at some point the Palmdale council members will put the citizens of Palmdale ahead of their own political ambitions.”
Palmdale city officials have vowed to fight the move until all appeals are exhausted, a city spokesman said Monday.
“We received it Friday, and it’s nothing different really than the preliminary decision,” said Palmdale Spokesman John Mlynar, “and we will appeal the entire case per our council’s instruction.”
The lawsuit contended minority representation in the city’s council elections are being minimized by Palmdale’s at-large election, and Judge Mark V. Mooney concurred in July.
Related article: Palmdale Voting Rights Act Ruling Could Change Political Landscape
The case is being closely watched in Santa Clarita because the firm of Shenkman & Hughes is also representing Jim Soliz and Rosemarie Sanchez-Fraser in three lawsuits against the city of Santa Clarita, the Sulphur Springs School District and the Santa Clarita Community College District.
The lawsuits are essentially alleging the same violations as the Palmdale suit.
Mooney’s decision calls on the city create four districts and an at-large, citywide mayoral election. The judgment also calls for a special election to be held in conjunction with the statewide primary election June 3 in order to remedy the decision.
Related article: Palmdale Election Halted Again Over Voting Rights Act Violation
“The current members of Palmdale City Council were elected through an unlawful election,” read the final decision from Mooney. “The citizens of Palmdale are entitled to have a council that truly represents all members of the community. … This can only be accomplished if all members of the City Council are lawfully elected.”
There was no timeline yet for a special election, Mlynar said, adding that more information on the next step in the appeals process, and whether that included any election plans, would be clarified at the City Council’s next meeting Jan. 8.
State law mandates that election notices be posted 120 days before the last day of balloting, which would put the deadline in the first week of February, if Palmdale holds an election in June.
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Source: Santa Clarita News