The court ruling that the at-large election system in the city of Watsonville violates the rights of Hispanics will have far-reaching impact in hundreds of government bodies, including San Diego.
The situation is somewhat different here than in Watsonville, where there are no council districts and no city primary. In San Diego's eight districts, candidates are elected in a two-step process: by district in the primary and at large in a runoff.
There will be appeals of the Watsonville ruling, and the matter could drag on indefinitely, but I think it's obvious that the practice of allowing all the city's voters to elect candidates in specific districts in general elections is discriminatory--not only to Hispanics but to other minorities.
The San Diego lawsuit, brought by the Chicano Federation, is on hold pending the results of an initiative that has qualified for the Nov. 8 ballot. I urge San Diegans to pass the initiative by an overwhelming margin to reaffirm the court decision and send a message to government bodies that the system needs to be changed.
THOMAS J. VANDEVELD
United Food & Commercial Workers