By now you have no doubt heard about how the Federal Judge hearing the ACLU’s lawsuit against Yakima’s voting system decided that the “evidence” provided by the ACLU convinced him-without a trial- that Yakima’s system is suffocating the Hispanic voter’s intention.We can’t say much about the specifics of the case and we do have a meeting with lawyers scheduled for this Thursday.

But there is a lot of information readily available to everyone on the County Auditor’s website.

One response to the article in the Yakima Herald Republic is posted below…followed by my response to it.  For the record Mr. Smith and I disagree frequently and completely.

So, for the sake of conversation which I hope it doesn’t get me in trouble with the judge (I have yet to read his report, but I will!) the assumption is that having the entire city vote for candidates is the problem.  (Even though the winner is elected to serve the entire city.)  We are told candidates being voted on in just their district is therefore the solution.  So what you may ask is there in the record that would indicate that?  Nothing really. Check 40 years of voting history and see for yourself.

Daniel C. Smith · Top Commenter · Yakima, Washington -- I think we should spend a few million more fighting this change, which is at worst procedural and at best might actually accomplish some good. But "it's the principle" (T.O'Rourke) so defending apparent racism is much more important than just getting on with business, with a slightly altered method for selecting council people.

My response to the charge of racism.

Hey Daniel...there is no racism here. The climate in today's America is for a growing number to find racism behind every corner and it's a disgusting disservice to this country and the people who fought long and hard against real racism.

Here is your "racism” in a nutshell with this case as I see, based on the numbers alone.

The concern for changing our system - one you voted 58% to preserve- is allegedly because Hispanic candidates can’t get a fair shake in a citywide vote.  So Yollanda Arellano of the Yakima Auditor’s office ran the most recent District race report which was from the 2011 Primary to see an example of how Hispanic voters perform in the District races, where, if the premise of this case holds true, they should perform well, only to go on to lose in the city wide general election.

Primary 2011 -- Four District seats are open.  Both Adkison in #1 and Coffey in #4 run unopposed.

There were 3 candidates in the race in District 2…No incumbent as Dave Edler was stepping down. Sarah Bristol-conservative journalist with a relatively well known last name---her husband was a reporter for the YHR, Rich Marcley-liberal who had some name familiarity as a previous candidate and Rogelio Montes, unknown first time candidate and the Hispanic man who eventually brought the ACLU lawsuit when he didn’t win. But how did he do in his district?

Montes  finished 3rd with 283 votes16.8% behind Marcley 453 votes at 25.7% and Bristol with 937 votes and 55.6% .  There were 31 write-ins and 300+ ballots that had no vote at all in the council race!

Granted, it's not a 50 or 51% Hispanic district but we'll get to that one, District 3, in a moment. My point is a lack of participation is the problem, not racism as you will see.

A total of 8720 ballots went out in District 2. Just 2,065 were returned. A sadly low rate of 19.86% return. But is that evidence of Racism?

Of the 8720 ballots, 1732 were mailed to Spanish surnamed voters …that is 19.8% 6,988 went to non-Spanish surname voters. Is that Racism or population distribution?

Of the 1732 mailed to Spanish surnamed voters, only 224 were returned…that is a 12.9% return rate. That’s low…could that be the result of Racism?

Of the 6,988 mailed to non-Spanish surname voters, only 1841 were returned…that is a 23.6% return rate…low again, but nearly twice the rate of return for Spanish surname voters. Did Racism cause that because that is the difference maker?

The point is that you have to be in the race to actually demonstrate any discrimination. I know this is just one race but it is THE race that started all this so it seems pertinent to the discussion.

In the 2014 primary the statewide return was about 31%...what if 31% of Hispanics had returned their ballot for Montes instead of the 13% that did?  He would have beaten Marcley by 67 votes for second place and been in the general Election.  A lower than average rate of return cost him a spot in the general election.  The rate of return is not affected by racism.  It's caring enough to buy a 49 cent stamp.  But at least he ran which is more than can be said for the 3rd District's history.

Now it’s your turn. I challenge you. Go back to 1974 and search the district race primaries on line…see how many Spanish surname candidates actually filed to run. Focus on District 3, the city’s most Hispanic district. See how many candidates actually got out of their own district to move on to the general election. If the ACLU is right, there should be many.

I’ll save you the trouble, going back 40 years there was only ONE time  -once  in 1991    that a Hispanic candidate even filed to run in the District 3 primary…in fact there were two that year—Patty Gonzales and Pablo Mendez. They ran against 2 term incumbent Lynn Buchanan. That’s it. ONE time in 40 years was there even the chance for a Hispanic to win in that district -only to be crushed in the general as the ACLU surmises -one time - because for 17 years before and 23 years after, NOT ONE Hispanic candidate filed to run in the 3rd District –the District with the most Hispanic residents in the entire city. How can you say the game is rigged when you don’t even play the game? Is that racism? No.  FYI - In 1999 in District One Michael Campos ran against then incumbent and current leader of the Republican party John Puccinelli and lost 61% to 27%.

In 2011’s Primary- when Montes lost to both Marcley and Bristol in the 2nd District, the 3rd District incumbent Rick Ensey fielded just one opponent-former city councilman George Pechtel. Once again, in the most heavily Hispanic populated district in the city, NO Hispanic candidates filed to run. THAT is not Racism.

How do you know the district system doesn’t work if you never tried it!

What about the handful of Hispanic candidates that filed in at-large races and faced the alleged wrath of the citywide vote? How many of them have there been? Soria, Rodriguez,Jevons, Reynaga? Who else? These are all recent candidates in the past 5 years–significant because the ACLU says there is a LONG history of suffocating the Hispanic vote- truth is that it was left leaning ideology in a right leaning city that did them in.

Enrique Jevons is a conservative but in 2013 he split that vote with uber conservative & two- time incumbent Bill Lover. So Lover won and faced off against liberal Folsom –Hill and again the conservative in the conservative city defeated the lovely but liberal Carol Folsom-Hill.

So where does that leave us? I fear the judge is confusing our prevailing ideology for racism…it is happening all too often today. The national media makes the same mistake (or intent) with the President and this President’s political appointee is overlooking the fact that the district system has NO track record of failure because qualified Hispanic candidates have not chosen to run in the very system he proposes to undo because it supposedly doesn’t work.

Four times in 40 years has an Hispanic candidate run in the general election--three times against strong republican incumbents and once against me with 30 years of broadcasting/name recognition, a known conservative stance and a radio show.

That hardly rises to a "suffocating impact" of our current system.

Again, the city vote was 58% to preserve the current system. In comparison 56% voted against recreational marijuana.  Should we continue to fight -at a cost-

or do we lick our wounds and retreat?