Santa Clarita City Council members are slated to discuss during a closed session meeting on Tuesday the pending litigation involving the city’s at-large voting system and the California Voting Rights Act.
According to the City Council agenda posted publicly in advance of the meeting, the council will once again meet with legal counsel to hear the latest updates regarding the lawsuit entitled Michael Cruz et al. v. City of Santa Clarita.
Tuesday’s meeting will become the latest conversation the five-member council has had in recent months regarding the lawsuit that could alter the City Council election process — moving the system to a by-district voting process as opposed to the current system in which the council members are selected by voters across Santa Clarita.
The news of Tuesday’s meeting comes on the heels of data released by the U.S. Census last week that showed the city of Santa Clarita, a municipality whose population is approximately 212,519, is made up of roughly 34% of people who identify as Hispanic or Latino.
“On St. Patrick’s Day, the Census released new data for 2016-2020,” said Scott Rafferty, the Walnut Creek-based lawyer representing a group of local litigants, as well as his own organization, in the suit filed against the city. “Not surprisingly, it shows (for the first time) that Santa Clarita can create a majority Latino district.
“This is important for federal law, but does not matter for the California Voting Rights Act,” Rafferty added. “We expect the map to empower voters of all races, so we don’t expect to amend the complaint.”
The lawyer stated Monday he could not comment further, citing that the parties remained in ongoing settlement negotiations.
Similarly, city officials have also remained largely quiet on what direction they see the lawsuit heading. Following previous closed session discussions about the lawsuit, city officials have continually said there was nothing to report out publicly and that no action had yet been taken.
Council members have also largely remained quiet from the dais, save for a handful of comments. Councilwoman Marsha McLean stated in a previous regular meeting that the council, even when elected in the at-large system, represents all Santa Clarita residents, regardless of race, gender or religion.
Councilman Bill Miranda expressed his belief, in a statement given to The Signal following a meeting last year, that he believes the at-large system gives voters more authority because it allows them to decide on all five council members as opposed to a single one who lives within their district.
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 santaclaritacityca.iqm2.com/Citizens/default.aspx.