City Council to hold closed meeting to discuss election litigation

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 is slated to hold a closed meeting once again to discuss pending litigation regarding the council’s current at-large voting system.  

While the council members have largely remained quiet on the issue from the dais, a majority have expressed their opposition to moving from an at-large system to a by-district election, either in direct comments to The Signal or in other community meetings.   

“I did want to say that there are some issues that will be coming up about districts and district-based voting,” said Mayor Laurene Weste during a video conference call with the Valley Industry Association on Tuesday. “That would put us in a position where you will lose four-fifths of your vote and will only be able to vote for one council person; you will not be able to vote for five.”  

“(It’s) something I think we’re going to have a lot more discussion about and I will share information as we move along in the future,” Weste added.  

Councilman Bill Miranda has previously argued that changing the election system to one based on geographical boundaries could open up further problems with democratic equity, and Councilwoman Marsha McLean has stated that the City Council, as it currently stands, represents all citizens, regardless of your race, religion or where you live.   

The litigants in the lawsuit, Scott Rafferty, Michael Cruz, Sebastian Cazares and Neighborhood Elections Now, an organization run by Rafferty out of Walnut Creek, asks for injunctive relief on the basis of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.    

“By electing its council at-large, the city of Santa Clarita dilutes the votes of Latino citizens, suppresses the ability of their communities to recruit and support candidates for public office, and prevents them from aggregating their votes to elect those candidates in single-member districts,” reads the lawsuit. “In recent elections, Latinos, Blacks and Asians have voted in coalition.”  

The special meeting for the Santa Clarita City Council is set to take place on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 23920 Valencia Blvd. The regular public meeting is then scheduled to take place at 6 p.m.   

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