The Santa Clarita City Council is once again scheduled to discuss a California Voting Rights Act lawsuit during a closed session meeting on Tuesday.
The special meeting is scheduled to take place an hour before the regular meeting is set to begin, after which time the council is required to publicly report action taken behind closed doors.
In similar past meetings, the council has largely stayed quiet on the issue from the dais. However, a handful have expressed, either in separate comments or when they’re not in the council chambers, their opposition to the lawsuit and its effort to force a change for City Council elections from at-large voting to by-district voting.
The lawsuit, filed by Scott Rafferty on behalf of 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 litigants argue that to vote for a single representative from their neighborhood district would result in more representative candidates for local communities. Council members have expressed in the past their belief that such a move actually dilutes an individual’s voting power.
“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.”
The next court appearance for the case, which has been dubbed Michael Cruz, et al vs. City of Santa Clarita, is a May 9 case management conference at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles.
The Santa Clarita City Council regular meeting is set to begin at 6 p.m. in the council chambers, located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.
For more information on how to attend Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, or where to view it virtually, visit the City Council’s website at http://santaclaritacityca.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx.