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City Council Pays $500k to Settle District Lawsuit

ISSUE: District Elections lawsuit settled prior to the scheduled hearing in February 2021. FACTS: Kevin Shenkman, attorney for the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project ("SVREP"), filed suit against the City of Carson on September 11, 2019. The SVREP alleges violations of the California Voting Rights Act and seeks to force the City of Carson into district elections.

In response to the suit, the City of Carson began an extensive process to consider district maps. In 2020, the SVREP sought to halt the election of the two council members set for 2020.

In response to the looming July 29, 2020 hearing, the Carson City Council approved a district map for Carson on July 21, 2020, and ratified on August 4, 2020. Both votes were 3-2 with Mayor Robles, Jim Dear and Jawane Hilton in favor of districts, and Lula Davis-Holmes and Cedric Hicks opposed.

Upon adoption on August 4, 2020 by the Carson City Council, district elections became immediately effective for the November 2020 election, with Districts 1 and 3 voting in 2020 and Districts 2 and 4 voting in 2022.

The Carson Municipal Ordinance is 20-2008 and can be found here:

The Final District Map can be found here:

In this meeting, the City Council seeks to give $500,000 in legal fees from city funds to the attorney that brought the litigation, and abandon the lawsuit defense, despite a pending hearing on the merits set for February 2021.

One might ask why the Council would engage in such behavior? What is the rush? Perhaps control of the City Council is about to change.

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