Jul. 16, 2013 – It looks like Gainesville does not intend to negotiate with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials to avoid a lawsuit.
The group’s officials announced last week that they plan to file a lawsuit by mid-September, because they want the city to change its at-large voting system.
It asserts the city’s election system violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
As reported by the Times, the city has said it doesn’t want to change the system because it works well for all citizens. and If it did change, many people remain confused about how that would work.
The at-large system allows all residents to vote for each city representative instead of a ward voting for only its own elected leader.
Both sides disagree on what the demographic and voter registration information really means. Dunagan said the city has issued its statement and stands by it.
According to the Times, Gonzalez, of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials said Ward 4, currently represented by Councilman George Wangemann, has citizen age voting population that is majority Latino and that analysis presented earlier this year showed Wards 3, 4 and 5 have a Latino population that is more than 50 percent and the Latino voting age population of Ward 5 makes up about 55 percent of all residents in that area.
The group’s lawyers are working pro bono, but the activists will have to pay for expert analysis and reports to prove their case. They hope to raise $30,000 and file the lawsuit by Sept. 15.
Wangemann is up for re-election this year and is facing announced challenger Pablo Picazo. Wangemann said he supports at-large voting, but he’s open to the city settling with the group if possible, to avoid the expense of litigation.
The positions of mayor and council seats for Wards 1 and 4 are up for election in November.
Copyright Glory 1330 2013