City Council has ‘no announcement’ regarding lawsuit filed against election system

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on February, 26, 2020, is located on the 23900 block of Valencia Blvd. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita City Council returned once again from a closed-door meeting Tuesday night with nothing to report out in regard to the litigation filed last month against the city and its at-large voting system.  

In the first meeting back since their holiday recess, the closed session meeting agenda, which took place before the regular meeting, showed only one topic of discussion up for discussion: the pending litigation entitled Michael Cruz et al. v. City of Santa Clarita.  

The joint lawsuit, filed by Walnut Creek-based attorney Scott Rafferty, as well as Michael Cruz and College of the Canyons board of trustees member Sebastian Cazares, calls for injunctive relief on the basis of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.  

In the lawsuit filed on Dec. 29, the litigants argued that to vote for a single representative from their neighborhood district would result in more representative candidates for local communities with large Latino and minority populations in future City Council elections — groups whose populations have grown since the city’s system was implemented decades ago and are protected by the CVRA.   

In response to the allegation, Councilman Bill Miranda said previously to The Signal that his personal belief was that redrawing of lines along possible ethnic boundaries could open up new problems in terms of democratic equity. He also stated he believes the present system, where residents vote for all five council members as opposed to a single one representing their neighborhood’s district, gives each voter more autonomy. 

“We on the City Council represent every single resident and it doesn’t matter what color they are or what color you are,” said Councilwoman Marsha McClean in a previous meeting. “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, it doesn’t matter at all… We are representing everyone, all five of us represent everyone, and going to districts will dilute our community.”   

Outside of a handful of comments made by individual members, the council has yet to announce a unified response to the lawsuit. In previous meetings, the elected body, as well as city staff, have largely declined to comment, saying they’re not able to comment on pending litigation.  

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