ACLU Lawsuit: Yakima At-Large City Council Elections Dilute Latino Vote

Aug 22, 2012

The ACLU of Washington says at-large city council elections in the city of Yakima dilute the Latino vote and violate the federal Voting Rights Act. The ACLU filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city.

Sam Granato is Yakima’s former police chief and a vocal critic of the current system of electing the city council. He says to understand why at-large council elections aren’t working look no further than this city pool on the mostly white West side of town.

“There’s none on the eastside, they closed them down," Granato says. "No one to advocate for them.”

The east side of Yakima is heavily Latino. But the City Council is all white. In its lawsuit, the ACLU demands the city switch to district-based council elections.

Granato, who describes himself as a conservative, “redneck” Latino, agrees.

“When you live on the east side of Yakima and you select a candidate, you stand no chance of winning because he’s going to get out-voted by the people who don’t even set foot on the eastside of Yakima.”

A spokesman for the City had no comment on the lawsuit. But he noted Yakima voters last year rejected a ballot measure to adopt district-based council elections.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

On the Web:

Yakima City Council:

ACLU statement:

Complaint - Montes v. City of Yakima: