The Yakima City Council has scheduled an April vote in which it is expected to rescind its appeal of the American Civil Liberties Union voting rights lawsuit that changed elections last year. The council voted 5-1 to put the issue on the April 5 agenda, with Councilwoman Kathy Coffey opposed and Councilman Bill Lover absent. After a brief executive session following the vote, Coffey announced that her concerns about the proposal were answered and that she too would support it.
Councilwoman Maureen Adkison said she supported the motion only because it “already has the votes” to pass. The motion was brought by Dulce Gutierrez and also supported by Avina Gutierrez, Carmen Mendez and Holly Cousens. “I believe that it’s overdue,” Dulce Gutierrez said during the meeting. “I just ask for the support of the council in moving forward and welcoming this change.”
In August 2012, the ACLU sued the city in federal court arguing that Yakima’s then-practice of mixed at-large and geographically defined districts was unconstitutional because it suppressed the interests of the city’s Latinos. In August 2014, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice agreed and ordered the city to adopt a district-based council system.
The first elections under the new system were held in November, and voters elected the first three Latino council members in Yakima’s history.