By Mike Faulk / Yakima Herald-Republic
YAKIMA — The Yakima City Council has formally dropped what it calls a “nonessential element” from its proposed electoral redistricting plan developed in response to a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The city had proposed a plan with five voting districts and two at-large seats, both of which would be awarded to the top-two vote-getters on a single ballot. The plan called for those top-two vote-getters to automatically be designated mayor and assistant mayor, to the chagrin of some council members and to the ACLU, which alleged the practice would be illegal under state law.
The council voted unanimously Tuesday morning to drop that aspect from its proposal.
That means if the federal judge presiding over the case accepts the city’s plan, council members would still have the authority to choose which members would serve as mayor and assistant mayor.
The city’s privately contracted attorney, Francis Floyd, had already filed a motion Oct. 6 in federal court dropping that element from the proposal.
Yakima’s proposal came in the wake of an August ruling by Judge Thomas Rice, who found the city’s current elections system enables racially polarized voting to suffocate Latino interests. One of the five districts under Yakima’s proposal would have a majority population of Latino citizens of voting age, while Latinos would represent one-third of the population in an adjacent district.