The decision phase in the US District Court case brought by the ACLU (Bertha Aranda Glatt vs. City of Pasco) regarding City Council election districts was completed in late January with Judge Larry R. Suko approving the proposed remedy of the City to address voting rights issues.
The decision of the judge, which was not appealed within the 30-day time limit which ended in late February, now stands as approving a six-district, one-at-large configuration for electing members of the City Council. Implementation of the new system will take place this year with all seats being open for election. In order to provide for approximately one-half of council seats to be open to election every-other year, the Court ordered that seats for Council Districts 1, 3, 4 and 6 be contested for four-year terms with the seats for Districts 2 and 5, plus the At-Large seat (Position 7), to be contested for two-year terms. After the election of 2017, all seats will be for four year terms, allowing for the traditional overlap.
Voters may choose to run for election in the district in which they reside (see individual district maps on the City’s website at www.pasco-wa.gov/councildistricts), or for the at-large seat for which there is no residency requirement (except to reside in the City).
For voters interested in running for City office in 2017, please note that the week of candidate filings is May 15-19 (contact the Franklin County Auditor at (509) 545-3502 for information).
While in the past, voters have had the opportunity to vote for each position on the ballot for City Council in the November, or general election, the resolution of the lawsuit provides that all voting for district positons will be limited to district resident voters. Both the approved City plan and the proposed plan offered by the ACLU (7 districts) provided for three districts in which Latino citizens constitute a majority of the registered and eligible voting population.
“This matter is extremely complicated and of great importance to our community as it changes how City Council members are elected,” said Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins. “Council’s adoption of a 6 district and 1 at-large plan accomplishes several goals the City Council has been working on to avoid racially polarized voting in Pasco and promote participation. These significant changes represent a positive steady effort and considerable time by the City Council with public input,” he added.