District election lawsuits continue to track down the coast, and have touched down in Encinitas.
Earlier this month, Encinitas received its letter from attorney Kevin Shenkman, threatening a lawsuit if the city didn’t drop at-large voting, in favor of district elections.
As with Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista, Escondido and San Marcos, Shenkman alleges that by holding at-large elections, Encinitas is violating the voting rights of Latinos by diluting their voting power.
Shenkman cited Encinitas’ infamously racist first mayor, Marjorie Gaines, and her behavior in the 1980s as stifling political participation by the city’s Latinos for years after she held office.
Latinos comprise 13.7-percent of the population in Encinitas, and Councilwoman Tasha Boerner Horvath told The Coast News that the city has in fact had two Latina council members since Gaines left office: Mary Lou Aspell, who served one term, and Teresa Arballo Barth, who served two.
Most cities have chosen not to fight Shenkman, since no jurisdiction has won such a lawsuit. The city of Palmdale is often held up as the example of what could happen if you chose to fight: In 2015, Palmdale settled with Shenkman and had to pay $4.5 million to the attorneys, in addition to their own legal fees.