Escondido Voting Rights Case Moves Forward
Friday, January 4, 2013
A judge today set a trial date in the legal battle over whether the city of Escondido should change how council members are elected to better represent the Latino community. About half of Escondido residents are Latino but only one Latino sits on the five-member council.
The trial date is not until January of next year, but it sets a timeline for negotiations between the city of Escondido and plaintiffs, who want to see city-wide elections changed to district elections.
Escondido city council has reluctantly agreed to consider district elections in order to comply with voting rights laws.
But the plaintiffs’ attorney, Jim Finberg, said the city has not yet come up with a plan.
“Nothing focuses parties’ attention like having a trial date," Finberg said. "The two parties can then proceed on two tracks: a litigation track and a settlement track.”
Finberg said negotiations need to include how the districts will be drawn, so they are not designed to minimize Latino representation.
The city attorney told the court he will respond to the legal challenge by March.