An attorney who seeks to end the practice of picking council members in citywide elections and instead have them represent individual districts is now targeting Encinitas, after finding success in Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista.
In a four-page letter received by the city on July 20th, attorney Kevin Shenkman wrote that Encinitas is diluting the votes of minorities with its current, at-large election system and thus has violated the state’s Voting Rights Act of 2001.
Moreover, Shenkman wrote, the city has a long history of hostility toward Latinos as evidenced by the fact that its first mayor repeatedly made racist statements during council meetings in the late 1980s.
Shenkman, a Malibu attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment. In his letter, he wrote that Encinitas has until Sept. 2 to respond or a lawsuit may be filed.
Encinitas City Attorney Glenn Sabine is reviewing Shenkman’s letter and the council will consider the matter at one of its meetings in August, Mayor Catherine Blakespear said Monday.
“We haven’t done the analysis yet, but I’d be surprised if we ended up coming to a different conclusion than (the other cities Shenkman has notified),” Blakespear said.
Carlsbad, Oceanside and Vista are all expecting to shift to district-based election systems in 2018 after receiving letters from Shenkman and learning that their chances of winning a lawsuit aren’t good. They’re not the only California cities making the change — dozens have done so since the Voting Rights Act passed in 2001.
The act, which aims to give Latinos and other minorities a greater voice in local government, allows people to sue if it appears that a city’s…
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