The ACLU of Southern California and Goldstein, Demchak, Baller, Borgen & Dardarian sued the City of Anaheim this week for violating the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). The ACLU explained the lawsuit on their website:
Through its at-large electoral process, the city has made it nearly impossible for Latinos, who make up more than one third of the electorate, to be fairly represented on the city council. Anaheim city government is comprised of a four member city council and a mayor, but there are currently no Latinos on the city council, and only three Latino individuals have ever been elected to the city council in Anaheim’s history.
I am all for ward-specific elections, but as the OC Weekly’s Gustavo Arellano pointed out, two of the three Latinos who have won elections in Anaheim have been Republicans – my old friend Lou Lopez (a former cop who was the first Latino elected to the Anaheim City Council and to the Anaheim City School Board) and Bob Hernandez. The third Latino to get elected to the Anaheim City Council was former firefighter Richard Chavez – a Democrat but certainly not a liberal.
And that is the point – liberal Latinos don’t do well in Anaheim – or in Santa Ana for that matter. Rather than sue the City of Anaheim, Latino activists should recruit more moderate candidates.
The other problem though is that, as Arellano pointed out, the Democratic Party of Orange County simply does not support minority candidates for the Anaheim City Council. This year they are lining up behind Tom Daly’s mini-me, Jordan Brandman. Lame!
And Brandman has partnered up with a guy named Steve Chavez Lodge, a former SAPD officer and a Republican who only recently started using the name “Chavez” after years of going by “Steve Lodge,” an apparent attempt to garner Latino votes.
Looking back again at the 2010 Anaheim City Council elections, the top vote-getter was my friend Thomas “Hoagy” Holguin, a Republican. He served with distinction for many years on the Anaheim Union High School District’s Board of Education, but there were 14 Council candidates in 2010, and Holguin’s party backed white candidates. Holguin has since, with my help, started the Anaheim Connected blog and he is doing a good job keeping his name out there in the public eye.
The other Anaheim Latino Council candidates in 2010 were quite simply total unknowns, in the form of Rudy Gaona and Robert Jesus Flores. Good for them for running but in hindsight they would have been better served by backing Holguin, who had a legitmate shot at winning and who at least had name I.D. and was able to raise campaign cash and run a credible campaign.
The situation in Anaheim could be addressed by switching to the system we have in Santa Ana, whereby the Council candidates must live ina specific ward but the voting is at large.