Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Sunnyside's City Council elections were unfair to Hispanics. The city needed to do more to increase the number of Hispanics involved with city government. Its system of all at-large seats for council elections was a hindrance to Hispanics getting elected to council.
That was the finger a Whitworth University student pointed at the city in a research paper done a few years ago. The student based his "research" by thumbing through the surnames in the phone book!
The Justice Department got wind of this little circus and pushed Sunnyside to form districts as a way to limit who could run for office, deciding council seats based on geography.
Sunnyside complied, turning four of its seats into districts for this fall's election and leaving the other three at-large.
We just had the outcome of all this earlier this month in the general election
A total of eight candidates sought election in the four districts and only one of them was Hispanic. And he was an incumbent.
There were no new Hispanics running for Sunnyside City Council.
One candidate even ran unopposed.
The Whitworth student's - and the Justice Department's - vision that districting would open the floodgates for Hispanics vying for office and voting fizzled like day-old cola.
The city held bilingual open houses and meetings to gain public input on districting. The city also distributed information materials in both English and Spanish.
To no avail.
That Whitworth student and those Justice Department officials are eating crow this Thanksgiving because their social experiment failed.
What they forgot to figure while letting their fingers walk through the phone book is that people have to have the desire to run for office, the will to get involved in the political process.
Being a candidate for office, any office, is a hard job and those who run are to be commended.
To paraphrase Blazing Saddles and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre before it, "Districts? We don't need no stinkin' districts!"
What we need is to be thankful eight souls cared enough about Sunnyside to run and give it their all.
They are to be thanked, all of them, regardless of their race.