Yakima will appeal a federal court ruling in a voting rights case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, but elections under a new system ordered by the court will proceed later this year. Citing the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court may hear a Texas case addressing the same issues raised in Yakima, the City Council on Wednesday voted 5-2 in favor of an appeal, with council members Kathy Coffey and Rick Ensey in the minority. But because the council didn’t seek a stay of the federal judge’s order, all seven council seats will be up for election later this year, as ordered by U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice.
In a telephone interview, an ACLU spokesman in Seattle said the group is prepared to continue pressing its case that the city’s current voting system dilutes the Latino vote. “We believe our case is very strong, and we’re prepared for an appeal,” said Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU of Washington.
Mayor Micah Cawley said he favored an appeal because he is optimistic about the city’s legal argument, which maintains that Rice’s ruling violates the principle of one person, one vote. “It’s truly about the Constitution, and if we don’t appeal this, it’s game over,” Cawley said before the final vote.
Coffey said she believed the time had come for the city to move on.