Saturday, August 8, 2020
Home News Carson Carson Moves to Avoid Voting Rights Lawsuit

Carson Moves to Avoid Voting Rights Lawsuit

By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

Carson is considering a switch from citywide elections to selection by geographic districts, but the initial response from residents was not positive. No one spoke in favor of the change during a public hearing at the May 21 city council meeting, but several residents opined against a system of by-district elections.

The loudest advocate for council districts was the year-old echo of attorney Kevin Shenkman, who threatened legal action for what he claims are violations of the California Voting Rights Act this past May. Shenkman has a history of suing cities and school boards on such grounds.

Public hearings regarding a by-district system for council elections are also scheduled for June 13 and June 18. After draft maps are drawn, at least two more public hearings are required, probably in late summer or early fall. An ordinance could be introduced in September, which would have to be submitted to voters, perhaps in November.

Since Carson is now a charter city, a move to council districts and by-district elections will require a charter amendment, which would also need to be submitted to voters, possibly in March 2020.

At the May 21 meeting, several residents spoke against changing to districts. None spoke in favor.

“We do have representation on the council,” said Faith Walton.

Robert Lesley compared the city’s actions regarding districts to the rush to become a charter city this past year. He recalled how a charter committee was formed to have input on creating a charter but he alleged the committee did not have any input on the charter in its final form.

Bill Koons said districts had pros and cons, and they would require council members to live in their district, and district elections could increase voter turnout at less cost. At the same time he warned districts could be gerrymandered to ensure certain persons got elected, and council members might consider “their own needs” over the needs of the city at large.

Last May, Carson received a letter from Shenkman which read, “voting within Carson is racially polarized, resulting in minority-vote dilution” and claimed he was representing Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, a Latino voter participation organization.

Shenkman’s letter concluded, “Given the historical lack of Latino representation on the Carson City Council” that the council “voluntarily” change its at-large elections system or “we will be forced to seek judicial relief.”

Several cities have challenged Shenkman in court but none has been successful. Some have simply changed to districts rather than go to court after receiving one of his threatening letters.

As an example of alleged infringement of Latino voting rights, Shenkman claimed in 2016 Raul Murga was the “only Latino candidate” for council, and he lost.

In fact there was another candidate with a Spanish surname, Ramona Pimentel, a planning commissioner. She also lost.

Another example Shenkman asserts is, that in June 2015, Jesus-Alex Cainglet lost for council “despite garnering significant support from the local Latino community.” It does not cite any evidence for this assertion. Cainglet is Filipino-American, so Shenkman appears to not distinguish between the Latino and Filipino-American communities.

Neither does the letter mention Elito Santarina, who is Filipino-American with a Spanish surname and who served on the council, 2003-2018.

In a third allegation, Shenkman claimed that in March 2015 council candidates Margaret Hernandez and Elisa Gonzalez did not win despite “significant support from the Latino community.” Actually the two women’s vote total combined amounted to barely more than five percent. At the same time Santarina won.

One of Pimentel’s mailers during the 2016 election complained about lack of “geographic diversity” on the council.

During the 2018 election season Pimentel ran again and lost again. One of her mailers in that campaign blared, “Should Carson Switch to District Elections Like Everybody Else?” It added: “Carson has been threatened with a lawsuit which would cost the city millions unless districts are created to allow fair representation of all residents” and “Nearly 40 different people have been elected in Carson, but only two have ever lived in the South of Carson.”

The mailer didn’t define “South of Carson.” Former council members Santarina, Vera Robles DeWitt, John Calas and Kay Calas all lived or live south of the 405 freeway. So does current council member Jim Dear.

As for the other current council members, Mayor Albert Robles claims he lives in his parents’ Carson home south of the 405 freeway, but a Los Angeles Times investigation uncovered evidence that he may live in Los Angeles.

Lula Davis-Holmes, Cedric Hicks and Jawane Hilton — all African-American —live within a few miles of each other, north of the 405 freeway.

Lyn Jensen
Lyn Jensen
Lyn Jensen has been a freelance journalist in southern California since the 80s. Her byline has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Weekly, the Los Angeles Reader, Music Connection, Bloglandia, Senior Reporter, and many other periodicals. She blogs about music, manga, and more at lynjensen.blogspot.com and she graduated from UCLA with a major in Theater Arts. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Most Popular

Ode to a Bookman

James Bullard Kennedy, July 13, 2020 By Bondo Wyszpolski, Contributor For two decades, Easy Reader and...

Keeping the Beer Taps Flowing During the Pandemic

In this latest edition of Random Lengths, we picked up a column by Beer Paper L.A.’s David Mulvihill, “Navigating the Current Normal,”...

“How Trump Stole 2020,” and What You Can Do to Make It Not Come True

By page 3 of How Trump Stole 2020, where our 45th president is labeled as “an orange-stained, gelatinous bag of malicious mendacity,...

Protestors March in Defense of Portland BLM Activists

As a result of the nationwide solidarity marches, federal troops, under Department of Homeland Security control, have agreed to leave Portland. The...

Recent Comments

Randomly Lengthly Walt on Republicans’ Revolt
Antifa are the real fascists on The Truth About Antifa
Artemis Gordon on The Truth About Antifa
Vicky Palesa Adam on Lung Health Tips for COVID-19
J.S on Icarus Falls
Ghost from your past! on Icarus Falls
Lisa Bennett on The Truth About Antifa
Dave on Icarus Falls
Kevin on Icarus Falls
DAVID J LEE on Think: George Floyd
M Mackey on Think: George Floyd
Michael S. Motta on Think: George Floyd
Thomas "HOUSE" Houchens on Think: George Floyd
Eliath Mena on Think: George Floyd
Deidre Powell on Think: George Floyd
Marcia Ladymgirl on Think: George Floyd
Jennifer L on Think: George Floyd
Carlos Fisher on Think: George Floyd
Jose "cheMMa" Rodriguz on Think: George Floyd
Aniza Thomas on Think: George Floyd
David Seay on Think: George Floyd
Marc LJ on Think: George Floyd
andre edwards on Think: George Floyd
Terelle Jerricks on From Pop Culture to Cop Culture
Sharon Hislop on Think: George Floyd
Fetteroff on Think: George Floyd
Raul Acevedo Jr. on Think: George Floyd
Mel Grayson on Think: George Floyd
Terelle Jerricks on A Virtual World of Events 
Alice r. Knoop on Lung Health Tips for COVID-19
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Joshua E Chambers on Take me to Sardine
Chad Dorchester on Take me to Sardine
Terelle Jerricks on Change Won’t Be Televised
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Melina Paris on Take me to Sardine
Bob Kohler on About
Judie M Barker on About
Kim Kaufman on Staff
Kim Kaufman on Staff
Vivian Morales on From War to Lowrider
Robin Doyno on Staff
Publisher on About
Joe Stackhouse on Advertise
Marshariki Haylock on A Stabbing in San Pedro
CARRIE MENDOZA on A Stabbing in San Pedro
Martin Palmiere EMC(SW) ret. on Trouble on the Iowa
Martin A.Palmiere EMC(SW) USN(ret.) on Trouble on the Iowa
John H Winkler on Frequently Asked Questions
J. McVey on Staff
Malou Mariano on Tampering and Collusion
Terrell Williams on The New Gap Band Fills The Gap
Alton C . Thompson, Ph. D. on About
Harold Ericsson on Letters to the Editor
Hillbinkel on Trouble on the Iowa
Ian Gordon on KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus
larry lebedin on KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus
Joseph Bianco on Frequently Asked Questions
Deborah Steed on Zerby Family Finds Solace
Don Griffin on Rosenberg
Pete on About
Anne Marie Knudsen on Clem Pennington is the Whole Package
Terelle Jerricks on About
Lyn Jensen on Go Retro with Records
Steven R. Heldt on Fig Trees Are Like Democracies
Joanne Sims on Peacocks, Paseo, Politics
Dave Borst-Smith on Peacocks, Paseo, Politics
Charles Traupmann on The Buscaino Report:
james P. Allen on Across the Great Divide
Allyson Vought on Across the Great Divide
PBinLostAngeles on RL NEWS Roundups: June 14, 2016
davehall on Voter Guide
Chris formica Gringos Tacos on Food Truck Blues
Random Lengths News on Iowa Fever
Tinisha Rodrique on IMG_1761
polos fred perry on Less Than a Side Show
cheap soccer jersey on Less Than a Side Show
le mahjong gratuit on The Surrealness of Knives and Breast
Harry and the Gang on Sherlock Holmes at the LB Playhouse
neufert architect s data pdf on IMG_1761
sewing machine reviews on Annie at the Warner Grand