Now it is Bellflower’s turn. The city located in southeastern Los Angeles Countyis facing a lawsuit fordiluting the Latino and African-American vote with at-large, citywide elections for local representatives rather than voting by geographic district.
The city council received several warnings over the years calling for a system more representative of the city’s demographics, yet nothing has been done in this regard.
Over more than the last 10 years, there have been numerous failed attempts by Latino and African-American candidates to get elected to the council. Despite the fact that Bellflower’s population is 52% Latino, representing 33% of voters, along with an 18% African-American voting bloc, there are no Latinos or African-Americans on the city council.
The reason that has and continues to block minorities from political representationis the same. This system allows voters to elect candidates citywide, rather than dividing the city into geographic districts so each area has its own representative. All to ensure that all city council members do not come from the most populated or prosperous partof the city.
We hope that Bellflower’s authorities do not decide to waste municipal dollars on waging a court battle over this lawsuit filed by theMexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for violations of the California Voting Rights Act of 2001.
One good example is the city of Whittier where voters agreed to change the system to vote by district. Next September 5, there will be ahearing to dismiss the suit. A bad example is Palmdale, which has spent $1.5 million on attorneys andwas ordered to pay $3.5 million in the plaintiffs’ legal feesa useless and unnecessary expense.
Bellflower’s authorities have to accept that demographic changes inevitably entail adaptations in order to keep representative democracy alive.