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ACLU lawsuit: Anaheim council elections unfair to Latinos

June 29, 2012 | 12:23 pm

The ACLU has sued the city of Anaheim, claiming its at-large process for electing council members effectively excludes the city’s large Latino population and violates the California Voting Rights Act.

The suit, filed Thursday in Orange County Superior Court, seeks to force Anaheim to adopt council districts to ensure better representation for Latinos, which account for about half of the city’s 354,000 residents. Anaheim is the 10th-largest city in the state.

Four of Anaheim’s five council members live in the upscale Anaheim Hills neighborhood. None are Latino and only three Latinos have ever been elected to the council in the city’s history, the ACLU said.

“This is a case fundamentally about how political power is shared,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU in Southern California, in a statement. “Large segments of the community…have been shut off from power because of the at-large election system.”

City officials say they have been studying the issue of switching to council districts, which would require voter approval.

A public meeting on the issue is slated for July 11 at City Hall.

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--Mike Anton

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