FALLBROOK PUBLIC UTILITY DISTRICT SETTLES MALDEF VOTING RIGHTS SUIT
Under Consent Decree FPUD Will Elect Its Board Members From Five Districts
February 10, 2016
SAN DIEGO, CA - Today, MALDEF reached a settlement agreement with the Fallbrook Public Utility District (FPUD) in San Diego County, California to change its current at-large election system to a by-district system for each of the five seats on the FPUD Board of Directors.
Last summer, MALDEF filed suit on behalf of Latino residents of FPUD, arguing that the utility district's existing election system violates the California Voting Rights Act of 2001 (CVRA) because it discriminates against Latino voters by submerging their minority votes in an at-large system that prevents Latinos from electing candidates of their choice.
"Like many special districts, FPUD has a tremendous impact on the lives of its residents, so it is critical that the FPUD Board represent all of its residents," stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel. "This settlement protects the rights of Latino voters and places the district on track for a more robust and inclusive future."
Although Latinos represent 44% of the overall population, no Latinos have served on the FPUD board for more than two decades. The settlement agreement will resolve the June 24, 2015 lawsuit alleging that the total absence of Latino representation was due to the at-large election system. "This settlement agreement ensures that Latino residents of Fallbrook will have an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to their public utility district board," said Matthew Barragan, MALDEF Staff Attorney. "We are committed to working with Fallbrook to ensure that the Fallbrook community is engaged and heard during the line-drawing process."
MALDEF and Fallbrook PUD jointly filed a motion today with the San Diego Superior Court to approve the settlement and dismiss the lawsuit.
A copy of the settlement agreement can be viewed HERE.
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit: www.maldef.org.