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Bell Gardens : Suit Charges Racial Bias in Citywide Election System

October 11, 1990

The city of Bell Gardens is being sued by three residents who allege that the citywide election system is racially biased against Latinos.

The suit, filed Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, alleges that the city's at-large election system dilutes the voting power of Latinos. About 85% of Bell Gardens residents are Latino, and according to Los Angeles County voter rolls, Latinos make up the majority of registered voters in Bell Gardens, but no Latino has ever been elected to the City Council.

Stanley Wantuch, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said that any time more than one Latino runs for office, the vote is split and the Latinos lose. A five-district system would balance the voting power, he said.

City Manager Claude Booker said the city attorney is now reviewing the allegations.

This is not the first run-in the city has had with Wantuch, and his co-plaintiffs Hank Ramey and Rudy Carillo Sr. The three have alleged that city officials have systematically abused the power of their office, and have filed numerous suits against city officials.

"This is not a new thing," Booker said. "The last suit they filed against us has been appealed and denied and I figured we would be hearing from them soon."

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