Santa Clara to divide into 6 districts for upcoming election

- It’s being called a historic move. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled Monday the City of Santa Clara be divided into six districts for upcoming elections ending an at large election system. Some residents said it's a victory for minorities.
 
The City of Santa Clara said the judge's decision is incomplete and could leave voters and potential candidates in limbo.
 
In the City of Santa Clara, for generations the city council has been predominately all-white even though today 40 percent of the city's residents are of Asian descent.
 
In fact, no Asian American has ever been elected on the city council despite several attempts.
 
On Monday, a Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge ordered to change how council members are elected.
 
“For Asian Americans this is great because they have always been overlooked,” said Wesley Mukoyama of Santa Clara.
 
Mukoyama is a Santa Clara resident and among the plaintiffs who filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Clara for violating the California Voting Rights Act. He’s been fighting for single member districts for better representation of minorities. 
 
Richard Konda is with the Asian Law Alliance who represented them.
 
“I think this is a really historic decision in terms of the Asian American community as well as the city of Santa Clara,” said Richard Konda of Asian Law Alliance. “I think the residents are going to find that when they have district elections they are going to have a better city council and a better form of government.”
 
The city will now be divided into six districts for its council members. The city will still elect its mayor on a city-wide basis.
 
"Throughout this litigation the City's priority has been to keep the voters and potential candidates informed about City elections,” said Mayor Lisa Gillmor. “The City will continue to comply with the Judge's order so far as it is able to, given that it is only partial direction. The City will further analyze this confusing situation as it determines how to proceed.”
 
Monday's ruling did not determine which districts or how many of them will have elections come November.
 
“I think the intention behind what the plaintiffs are trying to achieve is a good one,” said Hosam Haggag of Santa Clara. “I just think the approach of single member districts in Santa Clara is not the right approach.”
 
Haggag said this new approach doesn't guarantee racial diversity and could even lead to frustration at the polls.
 
“I think it really is an insult to Santa Clarans in terms of their intelligence to be able to vote for the best candidate not necessarily for a candidate simply because for ethnicity,” said Haggag. 
 
The City of Santa Clara could appeal Monday’s decision. The Asian Law Alliance said if the city does appeal, they will fight the appeal.
 

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