The Anaheim City Council voted unanimously last night to settle the California Voting Rights Act lawsuit challenging the legality of the at-large voting process used to elect the city council. The settlement requires that the city council place a charter amendment before the voters in November 2014 to establish by-district voting for city council elections beginning in 2016. This process, if approved, will have council members selected by the voters of geographic council districts, rather than by the city-wide (at-large) process currently being used.
The agreement also requires the Council to place a separate charter amendment on the same ballot increasing the number of city council members, in addition to the mayor, to six. If the amendments are approved, the new process would be implemented for the 2016 election cycle. The agreement requires the city to repeal the resolution previously passed by the council last year calling for a charter amendment to be put before the voters to establish residency-based districts for the four city council seats.
The current council majority, led by Councilwoman Kris Murray, had staunchly opposed a by-district election process since the lawsuit was filed in July 2012. But once depositions were set to be scheduled the city decided to try negotiating for a settlement. As of November, the city had spent nearly $1.5 million in taxpayer funds fighting the demand for by-district elections to remedy the lack of Latino representation on the council, in a city with a 52 percent Latino population.