Anaheim’s City Council seems to have an unlimited capacity for stubbornness in wanting to maintain an election system that discriminates against its Latino residents.
The city has an at-large election system where all voters elect all council members, no matter which district they represent. Therefore, all current council members live in the wealthiest area, Anaheim Hills, and none is Hispanicdespite the fact that Latinos account for 52% of the residents.
Because of this political structure, municipal services are distributed in a certain way, which in turn has sparked several public demonstrations and a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU’s lawsuit alleges that the city’s current election system violates the 2001 California Voting Rights Act, which requires adequate representation for minorities in the City Council.
As a result, Council members created a citizens advisory committee. After many meetings, the committee unanimously recommended to ask voters if they want to maintain the current system or change to by-district representation.
The Council rejected this recommendation. Instead, members agreed to consider a hybrid version that keeps the election system as is and requires Council members to live in their district.
This makes a mockery of people’s concerns. Residents want a representative government that is elected fairly, instead of keeping an antiquated, regressive and demonstrably discriminatory system.
The city of Anaheim should understand that this is a lost battle that will cost it huge amounts of money. The proposed change won’t resolve the lawsuit or appease the frustration of the majority of the residents, who live in a community that is economically segregated because of its political structure.