Palmdale to appeal recent decision on voting rights lawsuit

PALMDALE –- The City of Palmdale will appeal the recent decision which was issued on Nov. 27 that would force the City to stop its at-large elections and instead force the City into dividing into four districts that would each choose a council member.

“Although we disagree with the ruling itself, we are pleased that a decision was finally made so we could move forward with our appeal,” said Assistant City Attorney Noel Doran. “The City of Palmdale is committed to protecting its citizens’ constitutional right to determine the manner and method of electing their city leaders.”

The tentative ruling ordered Palmdale to hold a special election coinciding with statewide primaries June 3. The City disagrees with the decision and will appeal when the preliminary ruling becomes official in about 10 days.

Palmdale’s last election, which took place on Nov. 5, saw the re-elections of Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford and Councilmember Tom Lackey, as well as the election of new Councilmember Fred Thompson. Thompson, a retired community college dean who formerly served on the Palmdale Planning Commission and Palmdale School District board, became the first African-American to win a City Council seat, but not the first minority candidate, to win a Citywide election.

“Plaintiff’s R. Rex Parris and Kevin Shenkman have certainly changed their tune since Frederic Thompson won a Council seat in Palmdale’s November at-large election,” said Palmdale’s Communications Manager John Mlynar.  “When they filed their complaint back in April 2012, they claimed that no Latino or African American has ever been elected to Palmdale’s City Council, nor has any candidate of choice of Latino or African American voters been elected to the Palmdale City Council.’ They said it revealed ‘a lack of access to the political process.’ Now that Mr. Thompson’s election destroyed their misguided theories by winning, they’re changing their spin and are now saying ‘it’s not really about the complexion of the candidate, it’s about giving minority voters the opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, regardless of the skin color of that candidate.’ In reality, who can make that choice better than the voters themselves, which they did on Nov. 5?”

“The citizens of Palmdale didn’t vote for me because of or, in spite of, the color of my skin – or theirs,” Thompson said.  “They voted for me for the same reasons they voted for me over thirty years ago: I understood the voters’ issues, I made myself known in the community, I had the support of other community leaders, I put the work in to get my message to the voters, and I ran an effective campaign.  What part of that formula is this lawsuit trying to ‘fix?’”

(Information via press release from the city of Palmdale)

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Next Step for Palmdale municipal election: Certification

Appellate court clears way for Palmdale city council election

Palmdale to appeal judge’s decision to cancel council election

Shenkman/Parris file injunction to halt Palmdale election