ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 2013-12-01 14:52:18 -0800
Palmdale politics could be changed forever if a judge’s ruling in a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit stands.
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A tentative ruling by Judge Mark V. Mooney called for Palmdale to scrap at-large elections in favor of four districts and a citywide mayoral position, which is currently held by Mayor Jim Ledford.
Furthermore, Mooney’s judgment states no member of Palmdale‘s City Council, save Ledford, can hold office after July 9, 2014, calling for a special election in June.
“As always, we’re pleased with Judge Mooney’s ruling and reasoning,” said attorney Kevin Shenkman, who represented the plaintiff.
“It’s a very well thought-out decision. We’re happy because we think the remedy that Mooney has set out will provide an opportunity for Latinos and African Americans in Palmdale to elect their candidates of choice.”
The city of Palmdale did not issue a prepared statement as of this story’s publication; however, city spokesman John Mlynar indicated the city would continue to fight the decision, which was handed down Wednesday, according to court records.
The city of Palmdale has 15 days to challenge the ruling.
Mooney found July 25 that the city of Palmdale had a history of racially polarized voting, which is one of the conditions necessary to prove a CVRA violation.
The issue is being closely watched by most Santa Clarita politicos because Shenkman’s firm, Shenkman & Hughes, is also suing the city of Santa Clarita and two local school districts on similar grounds.
Since that date in July, the city of Palmdale and Shenkman’s firm had several rounds of hearings in an effort to create legal “remedies” to fix the violation.
Mooney has called parts of Palmdale’s efforts at remedies “most troubling,” including the districts the city proposed, which were designed to protect the incumbents.
Palmdale city officials called previous rulings from Mooney “unprecedented,” and “wildly radical” in a news release.
“Lawyers Shenkman and Parris are using a poorly drafted statute as a pretext for a huge attorney’s fee windfall at the expense of the taxpayers,” Ditzhazy said in a previous statement. “This lawsuit has never been about white, black or brown — only green.”
Shenkman said the plaintiffs’ expectation is not for City Council members to be of a certain race.
“I don’t mean that the particular candidate will have a particular complexion, that seems to be confused out there,” Shenkman said, noting that Fred Thompson, who is black, recently won a council seat in a citywide Palmdale election.
“Thompson may or may not be the candidate of choice (for Hispanic and black voters),” Shenkman said. “Just because his complexion is darker than other folks is not the issue.”
Mooney’s ruling also called for future regular elections to be held to coincide with the national elections of general statewide offices, which should take place on even-numbered years.
State law demands at least four months from the the beginning of the nomination period to the last day of voting.
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Source: Santa Clarita News