Bertha Aranda Glatt, a lifelong Pasco resident, is suing the city in federal court with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
A lawsuit was filed Thursday against Pasco, claiming the city’s at-large election system violates the federal Voting Rights Act.
Bertha Aranda Glatt is suing the city in federal court with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
The lifelong Pasco resident unsuccessfully challenged Mayor Matt Watkins for an at-large seat on the City Council in the 2015 election.
Glatt — facing a room full of media representatives and Pasco civic leaders and business owners — became emotional Thursday as she explained that her parents are Mexican immigrants, and all members of her family are proud Pasco residents.
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She chose to be the plaintiff in this civil action to make sure the Latino community has meaningful access to the city’s voting system and council representation, she said.
“The at-large voting system favors the existing council person,” Glatt said.
Pasco currently operates with five districts and two at-large seats held by council members who live anywhere within the city.
Each voting district selects the top two candidates in the primary election if three or more file for a specific seat. The top two candidates then move on the general election, with the voting open to all city residents.
The lawsuit claims that system violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act “because it impermissibly dilutes the Latino vote, deprives Latinos of an equal opportunity to elect representatives of their choice, and does not allow the city’s Latino residents to participate equally in the political process.”
The ACLU wants Pasco to switch to seven districts with candidates elected only by residents in that district, instead of citywide.