Latinos and African Americans make up about two-thirds of the population of Palmdale. But since the city's incorporation in August 1962, not a single black resident and only one Latino has ever served on the City Council.
That's the backdrop of a complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by Antelope Valley civil rights activists alleging racial bias in city elections in this High Desert locale. The complaint argues that Palmdale's system of at-large council seats dilutes the influence of minority voters.
"Latinos and African Americans are locked out of the political system in the city of Palmdale," said Malibu attorney Kevin Shenkman, who is representing plaintiff Juan Jauregui, a Palmdale resident. Three local black activists and the NAACP have also said they will join the case, scheduled to go to trial in May.