LULAC FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT AGAINST CITY OF HOUSTON OVER AT-LARGE CITY COUNCIL RACES
Nation's Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Says Houston is Texas’ Last Major City Where Elections Dilute Latino Community’s Voting Strength and Deny Latinos Fair Representation
Washington, DC – The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) filed a federal lawsuit Monday demanding the discontinuation of at-large city council elections in Houston. The lawsuit was filed in United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division. LULAC asks the court to grant injunctive relief, through fair and open elections, to the city’s more than one million Latinos from the continued denial of their civil rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
“LULAC says basta after generations of Latinos have endured deliberate and systematic discrimination for years through the good-ol’ boy system of the past controlled by a few,” says Domingo Garcia, LULAC national president. “Latinos make up 44.5% of the city’s population, yet we have only one Latino out of 16 positions on the city council that controls a $5.7 billion annual budget. Our battle is against an outdated system that denies Latino taxpayers and their families their lawful participation deciding vital services, resources, jobs and investment this city makes. This action by LULAC ensures that Latinos can and will have a major voice in deciding Houston’s future,” adds Garcia.
Specifically, the lawsuit names four Houston plaintiffs who ask the court to discontinue at-large elections for five members of the council who run citywide. The lawsuit seeks to provide for more equitable representation in the nation’s 4th largest city. “Houston is the only major city left Texas that lacks 100% single member districts,” says Ivan Sanchez, one of the plaintiffs. “LULAC believes we need to bring the city of Houston up to date, and modernize it politically, like other major Texas communities,” he adds. Another plaintiff is Anthony Rios who states, “Every major city in Texas has abolished at-large city council seats because they are discriminatory. It is time that Houston joins the future by providing fair representation to all of its citizens.”
Sergio Lira is Houston LULAC’s redistricting chair who states that at-large elections have historically favored the status quo and demographically dilute Latino voting strength. “Having just one Latino on the city council is an outcry,” states Lira. “We need more equitable representation at a time when Latinos are building Houston with our labor, and our businesses are pumping in millions in tax dollars. Making this change is not a favor, rather a right we have earned. LULAC is here to claim that right and trusts that the federal court will agree,” he says.