The City of Visalia is facing legal action from a group of people who claim the city is violating the California Voting Rights Act and doesn’t have enough Latinos on the city council. Currently Visalia residents vote for their top city council candidates, and whoever gets the most votes is elected. The lawsuit says the city must instead divide itself into districts to give Latinos a voice. A lawsuit filed against the City of Visalia claims in the history of the city, there has only been one Latino council member voted into office, despite Latinos making up 46% of Visalia’s population. It claims the city’s failure to elect council members based on districts is mostly to blame.
The suit claims the city is violating the California Voting Rights Act by not transitioning into district-based elections for the city council. Currently, the candidates with the highest percentage of votes are elected into the vacant city council seats.
“Their opinions and thoughts and desires are absolutely fairly represented in the council. Whether you have a person with a Hispanic last name serving on the council at this time — no, there is not,” said Leonard Herr, Attorney for the City of Visalia.