ACLU Files Lawsuit Against City Of Yakima
The American Civil Liberties Union files a lawsuit against the city of Yakima's election system, claiming the system dilutes Latino votes.
At issue in the suit is the city's method of selecting its city council members.
The ACLU claims the current system prevents Latinos from having a voice.
Right now, three of the seven members of the council are all elected at-large, but the ACLU wants to change that to a system where council members can only be elected from specific districts.
One of the suit's two plaintiffs says one of those areas is highly populated by Hispanics
"The issue here in Yakima of course is being sure that the Latinos are represented on the city council, as well as onto commissions that the city has. And more important, be sure that their voices are being heard," said Mateo Arteaga.
Supporters say electing someone from an area of town that has a high minority population will bring attention to the issues in that area. Something they say has been overlooked.
Elizabeth Figueroa lives in the eastern part of Yakima and says she's had problems getting simple tasks done.
"When I wanted to get a telephone put in, they told me I had to wait three weeks because I wasn't a high priority area. Well, that's not fair," said Elizabeth Figueroa.
Tony Sandoval lives in the area referenced in the suit -- he says it's time someone from his area speaks out for people like Elizabeth.
"A local representative would deal with problems within that neighborhood, before they even reach city council. If you go in the northeast/southeast, one, you won't see a pool down there. Two, you'll see a lot of burnt lights -- street lights out. And you'll see a lot of neglect through there," said Sandoval.
The city council now has thirty days to respond to the filing.
City staffers declined comment today, citing the fact that the suit was just filed this morning and that it has not been properly reviewed yet