Encinitas has become the latest target in a series of demands for North County cities to abandon citywide elections in favor of electing council members by district.Would it even be possible to draw a district with a Hispanic majority? Encinitas Hispanics don't all live in the same part of town.
And if history is any indication, Encinitas will be the latest city to begrudgingly make the electoral change.
The city received a legal demand letter from the law firm Shenkman & Hughes, the same firm that has targeted San Marcos, Oceanside, Vista and Carlsbad in recent months.
Attorney Kevin Shenkman, in the letter dated July 14, asks the city to voluntarily change its citywide election system or face litigation. Shenkman argues that the citywide voting violates the California Voting Rights Act because it dilutes the voting power of the city’s Hispanic residents — who comprise 13.7 percent of the city’s 63,000 population.
Shenkman’s firm, which represents a voting rights organization for Latinos, made similar demands in the four aforementioned cities.
In each case, the city chose voluntarily to create districts for future elections — including at least one district whose population has a Hispanic majority — as opposed to fight them in court.
As odious as the motivation to divide residents by racial background is, district elections could be a good thing if they result in the election of more neighborhood activists over candidates promoted by the county political parties.