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Lawyer: Injunction considered to halt Santa Clarita City Council elections

Posted: December 3, 2013 7:09 p.m.
Updated: December 3, 2013 7:09 p.m.
 

SANTA CLARITA - One of the lawyers involved in a series of California Voting Rights Act lawsuits against agencies in the Santa Clarita Valley told The Signal Tuesday an injunction to stop Santa Clarita from holding its scheduled City Council election in April is a possibility.

“That’s certainly a possibility and we have in fact reserved a hearing date with the court for such a motion,” said Kevin Shenkman, a lawyer at the Malibu firm Shenkman & Hughes.

Shenkman and Hughes, along with the law firm of Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, are representing plaintiffs in lawsuits against the city of Santa Clarita, Santa Clarita Community College District and Sulphur Springs School District alleging their at-large systems have lead to “racially polarized” voting, where a “protected class” of voters chooses a particular candidate or candidates different from the general electorate.

“At-large” elections mean all eligible voters within a voting area cast ballots for all candidates running, not just ones tied to a specific district.

Santa Clarita City Attorney Joe Montes said no injunction has been filed as of Tuesday.

“They haven’t filed for anything and if they file we would respond,” Montes said.

Montes said, generally, when a judge is considering an injunction he or she will consider both the viability of a claim, the likelihood the party seeking an injunction will prevail in the case, and the “likelihood of harm to any of the parties by not issuing the injunction.”

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge recently ruled against the city of Palmdale in a similar California Voting Rights Act lawsuit and ordered the city to hold a new council election after concluding the city’s at-large election system, most recently used in November, discriminated against black and Latino voters.

Shenkman said he hopes an injunction won’t be necessary in Santa Clarita.

“There’s a very easy solution,” Shenkman said. “There’s one type of election that is unquestionably legal and that’s a district-based election.

“The ball is sort of in the court for the city of Santa Clarita to do the right thing,” he said.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

 

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