While the city of Santa Clarita, Sulphur Springs and Santa Clarita Community College districts are facing lawsuits that allege civil rights discrimination, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in those cases stopped by for a discussion with a KHTS AM-1220 show host at KHTS’ studios in Canyon Country on Tuesday.
Attorney Kevin Shenkman and Messina, host of nationally syndicated “The Real Side” from 2-3 p.m. on KHTS discussed the merits of the suit for an hour after Messina’s show.
A link to the discussion is available at KHTS’ website HometownStation.com.
The suit alleges that racially polarized voting denies Latino voters “access” to the at-large electoral system that the city and districts use.
However, Messina argued that going by just the “letter of the law” was not going to give you an accurate picture of representation in the Santa Clarita Valley.
During the discussion, racially polarized voting was defined in the Santa Clarita Valley as the fact that you have a large Latino population that doesn’t have any real representation on the governing boards of the three defendants.
“There have been Latinos who have run and lost, there have been Italian candidates who have won and lost, and there have been Irish candidates who have won and lost,” Messina said. “I lost three times before I got elected.
“But then we have Gloria Mercado-Fortine, who’s won several elections,” Messina said. “So I really don’t see how that applies to this area.”
Shenkman pointed to the numbers as proof of a problem.
“With respect to the city of Santa Clarita, there have been exactly zero candidates elected to City Council. There have been exactly zero African Americans elected to City Council. There have been exactly zero Asians,” he said.
“When you’re saying, ‘Well, according to the letter of the law, Santa Clarita is violating the law,’ — well, as a lawyer, I don’t have the liberty of going into court and saying, ‘Yeah, I know the city of Santa Clarita is violating the law and that’s what the law says, but the law should say something different.’”
The discussion also touched on the remedies suggested by legal experts in the past and whether they would address the problem in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Check out the link above for the podcast of the conversation, or check out our YouTube channel for video, by searching KHTS.
Messina is a governing board member of the William S. Hart Union High School District, which oversees junior highs and high schools in the SCV, and he’s also the chairman for the 38th District of California’s Republican Assembly.
He was not on the show to talk as a governing board member of the Hart district. He was expressing his own personal views as a resident of the Santa Clarita Valley.