Lancaster Mayor Suing Neighboring City for Voting Rights Lawsuit

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris is joining a lawsuit against the neighboring city of Palmdale, which is where Parris grew up and he even has a high school named after him. So why is he going after the high-desert city next door? Parris has signed on as co-counsel for a voting rights lawsuit. Yes, yet another California city is facing legal action for at-large vs. district elections. The lawsuit is arguing that without the district method, the city is keeping black and Hispanic residents off the City Council by diluting their voting power.

Parris commented, “The effects of the City of Palmdale's at-large method of election are apparent and compelling. Despite a Latino population of approximately 54.4% and an African American population of 14.8% in the City of Palmdale, only one Latino and not a single African American has ever been elected to Palmdale's City Council. Consistently, the candidates of choice of Latino and African American voters have been defeated because they fail to draw support from Palmdale's politically cohesive White voters. The current absence of any Latinos or African Americans on the Palmdale City Council reveals a lack of access to the political process.”

This case will go to trial in May. Palmdale is one of many cities that has faced pressure to switch from an at-large method to district elections. For example, Compton faced a lawsuit and a resolution involved the city switching methods for the first time during this spring’s election. See more here.