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Irving ordered to switch to single-member Council districts

A federal judge has ordered the city of Irving, Texas, to switch to single-member City Council districts because their current at-large system was in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis issued the ruling Tuesday in response to a federal suit filed by Irving resident Manuel Benavidez, who claimed that the city’s at-large voting system essentially blocks the votes of Hispanics and violates the federal Voting Rights Act.

Solis ordered both sides to try to agree on a plan for elections and redistricting and a schedule for implementing that plan, and to submit either joint or proposed plans to the court within 90 days. If the parties fail to come up with an acceptable plan, Solis said that he would draw his own redistricting plan.

“This victory gives the Latino community in Irving a voice in the political process and the opportunity for representation,” said William A. Brewer III, partner at the Bickel & Brewer Storefront, who represented Benavidez. “We hope this result effects a positive contribution to the way in which certain municipalities approach a changing world.”

[…]

In his ruling, Solis noted numerous factors in Irving’s voting system that, “…weigh heavily against the ability of Hispanics to elect candidates of their own choosing; accordingly, the totality of the circumstances indicates the Defendant’s method of electing the mayor and members of its City Council violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.”

[…]

Single-member districts have been a contentious issue in Irving on and off for decades. In February, a charter review committee recommended creating some sort of single-member district system. A petition also is circulating to let voters decide whether there should be a mixed system of single-member and at-large council seats.

Hispanics make up the largest single racial or ethnic group in Irving. But creating a new City Council district where a majority of voters are Hispanic is virtually impossible, city attorneys argued in federal court filings.

Their reasoning: About 60 percent of Irving Hispanics who are old enough to vote aren’t citizens and thus can’t cast ballots.

Irving’s mayor and eight council members are all white even though whites make up only about 35.6 percent of the city’s population, according to 2007 American Community Survey estimates. Hispanics make up 40.6 percent of the population, according to the same estimate.

Benavidez’ attorneys said Irving’s Hispanic voters have overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Hispanic candidates in recent council elections. And they argued that none of those candidates won because non-Hispanic voters, who typically cast more than 90 percent of ballots in the elections, overwhelmingly supported Hispanic candidates’ opponents.

Good for Benavidez and the residents of Irving. As Greg notes, it’s not exactly clear why the plaintiffs in Irving won but the ones in Farmers Branch lost, though they are appealing and could get a boost from this ruling. Be that as it may, Irving is another one of those places that has gone on anti-immigrant binges, and as far as I’m concerned anything that makes places like that a little more representative of its population is a step in the right direction.

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5 Comments

  1. S. Paul Jordan says:

    Though I dread the idea that the potential of certain new members on the City Council might lead to ordinances that would allow urinating in the street, the slaughtering goats at residences, the turning properties into junk yards, and many other types of situations that the absence of represents positive aspects of living in America that those who immigrated from Hispanic countries seem incapable of understanding and who scream racism when anyone tries to get them to adopt the ways of this country (when in Rome…), I just never liked the idea that those who live outside of the Irving district that I live in can vote for who represents the interests of those living in my Irving district. That is just like letting everyone in Texas vote for who will represent my district as State House representative or State senator. Personally, Irving should have ended its at-large voting system a long time ago and long before it became a racial issue. If I, living in Texas, cannot elect U.S. senators and congresspersons in other states, then why would residents living in the Las Colinas, Hackberry Creek, University Hills, and other areas in north Irving, elect who is to represent my interests on the City Council for where I live in south Irving? I doubt that many in north Irving ever bother to see how south Irving has declined under the at-large voting system while many on the City Council have held their elected positions.

  2. S. Paul Jordan says:

    PS: Irving never went on any anti-immigration binge and those who think that were just tricked into thinking that by our sly and slick mayor who has learned how to play many and manipulate the media better than he did when he lost his seat on the City Council. It was all a ploy, a trick-with-mirrors act, and smokescreen, in an effort to make old timers in Irving believe that our Irving mayor was there to protect them from immigrants when it had nothing to do with anything other than manipulating votes. This goes on elsewhere when it comes to Irving and that includes more than the City Council.

    The City allowed Carlos Quintanilla into City Hall, with his cronies, despite the multiple warrants for his arrest and it allowed him to hold a protest on Irving City Hall steps when what occurred violated both a City ordinance and a State law. The police arrested two of the counter-protesters after they responded to being assaulted by the protesters, when one protestor was serving more than one probation at that time and one probation was for his felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Then, the City stated that it did not have records on what it cost the City for having City staff at Irving City Hall for that protest.

    Then, the following month, the City allowed Carlos Quintanilla to apply for, and get, the permit to hold a parade on Irving streets just two days later when a City ordinance clearly stated that more days than that were required in order to give notice to those who might have objections to that parade, and on that date, such as businesses where the parade was to go by. And, the City not only gave Carlos Quintanilla that permit, but it gave him and his cronies a police motorcycle escort for the parade despite the police being fully aware of multiple warrants for his arrest.

    City records on the parade show that the total cost the City incurred for that parade was listed at $24,722.31, but yet the City only billed Carlos Quintanilla and Accion America $4,210.78 of that $24,722.31. The times I have checked with the City, the City had not received any payment and the City failed to release any records to justify why only such a small amount of the total cost was billed to Carlos Quintanilla and Accion America. The reason why I believe the City allowed what it did was due our overpaid City Manager, a puppet of our mayor, who gave instructions to allow it and our mayor wanted it in order for him to help create a media frenzy about Irving so he could get media coverage and so he could manipulate the non-Hispanic Irving voters. Boy, have they been suckered…

  3. […] they think this isn’t something for which they should go to the mat. As noted here and in the previous story, there are some existing recommendations for single-member districts for Irving to consider. The […]

  4. paul Jordan

    The media frenzy was created by the loudmouths who were yelling racist commentary. The number of people in that group was fifty at most, marching with Quintanilla, close to 5,000 people.

    Move forward, don’t waste taxpayers money and quit giving all that money to McDougal.

  5. […] ironic that this ruling comes down at the same time as the final touches are being put on the court ruling that required the city of Irving to create single member Council districts. Makes you wonder why […]