Current Santa Monica Voting System Not Accountable to All Voters
March 7, 20018
Thank you for your article entitled "Leader of State Democratic Party's African American Caucus Urges Santa Monica to Stop Voting Rights Lawsuit," December 13, 2017.
In the article, your paper writes, "Santa Monica officials argue that at-large voting enhances the influence of minorities by making the entire council -- which was expanded from three to seven members in 1946 -- accountable to all voters.
"The City also argues that voters have re-affirmed at-large voting twice, in 1975 and 2002, and that the plaintiffs have failed to provide evidence of injury or facts showing Latino-preferred candidates would have won office under an alternative electoral system."
But the fact of the matter is that the current Santa Monica voting system -- devised pre-Civil Rights, pre-Brown v. Board of Education in 1946---is NOT accountable to all voters.
Never once has a Latino from the Pico neighborhood -- our City's most impoverished and marginalized district, where Latinos, specially Americans of Mexican descent, have historically resided -- been elected to the City Council.
The fact is that in the entire City's history only one Latino has been elected to the Council, and that is Councilmember Tony Vasquez.
But recently we have learned that his motives for serving on the Council having been financially driven as evidenced by recent articles that speak of how he got contracts with developers that were approved, in short, by his wife, who sits on the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District ("SMMUSD Probes School Board Member Maria Leon-Vazquez Over Votes for Contractors Who Employed Husband," November 14, 2017).
In more recent days, we have learned about the private jet ride he took advantage of and did it not report to be in compliance with government requirements.