By Daniel Ritz, Dana Point Times
On Feb. 2, the city of Dana Point City’s Clerk department received a letter from Russell Myrick of The RDM Legal Group in La Jolla, expressing their belief that “voting within Dana Point is racially polarized, resulting in minority vote dilution, and therefore Dana Point’s at-large elections violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA),” according to the letter.
Myrick’s letter continues, stating “To establish a violation of the CVRA, a plaintiff must generally show that racially polarized voting occurs in elections for members of the governing body of the political subdivision or in elections incorporating other electoral choices by voters of the political subdivision. Given the historical lack of Latino representation on the City Council in the context of racially polarized elections, we urge Dana Point to voluntarily change its at-large system of electing council members. Otherwise, on behalf of several concerned residents of the City of Dana Point, we will be forced to seek judicial relief.”
Myrick’s claims of underrepresentation are based on 2014 data showing Latino’s comprise almost 18 percent of Dana Point’s 34,000 citizens.
Most cities, school districts and other jurisdictions targeted under the state’s voting rights law have switched, rather than wage costly court battles. Jurisdictions vulnerable to lawsuits under the act generally have significant minority populations, with few or no minority elected officials.
Myrick’s letter specifically notes that in Dana Point, Carlos Olvera, who was elected in 2013, has been the only Latino in 20 years to successfully secure a City Council seat.
The Dana Point City Council has until March 19, 45 days from the date of issuance, to hold a hearing considering resolution. From the date of that hearing, the City Council will have 90 days to adopt an ordinance for the City regarding new district-oriented voting in which no minority is diluted from electing candidates of their choice. These timelines were established by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 in a series of multi-faceted measures aimed to streamline city’s conversion to district-based elections while simultaneously curbing a rash of serial and costly litigation.