Wesley Kazuo Mukoyama v. City of Santa Clara

Victory!  Santa Clara ordered to immediately begin implementing district-based elections for the November 2018 City Council elections.

City of Santa Clara enjoined from holding at-large elections for any City Council member, other than the Mayor. City also ordered to hold district-based elections for City Council in November 2018.

On June 6, 2018, the Superior Court in Santa Clara ruled in favor of GBDH’s clients, and found that the City of Santa Clara has been violating the voting rights of its Asian American voters. The plaintiffs are now preparing for a preliminary injunction hearing that will begin on July 18, 2018, to ensure that a lawful election system is in place in time for the November 2018 City Council elections.

On 3/30/17, GBDH, along with Law Office of Robert Rubin and Asian Law Alliance, filed a lawsuit against the city of Santa Clara alleging that its at-large method of electing its City Council violates the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) because racially polarized voting results in vote dilution for its Asian American voters. Racially polarized voting here means the voting preferences of Asian American voters (a large minority of the electorate) are different from those of white voters (the controlling block of the electorate). Santa Clara has not had an Asian-American council-member for at least the past 65 years despite the fact that almost 40% of Santa Clara’s population is Asian-American, and they are 30% of eligible voters.

The plaintiff, Wes Mukoyama, said: “Something is wrong when such a sizeable Asian-American population cannot elect candidates of its choice.”

GBDH partner Laura Ho, stated: “You might expect to have encountered these types of voting patterns in the Deep South during the 1950’s but it is surprising to find them in the Bay Area in 2017. This lack of representation is exactly why California has outlawed at-large voting systems where there is racially polarized voting.”

The suit seeks to enjoin the city from implementing the at-large system and allow for the implementation of a district election system.

For more information about the case, click on the link to the complaint filed with the Superior Court or read the press release and media materials released on the day the complaint was filed. Lead attorneys on the case for our firm are Morris J. Baller and Laura L. Ho.

Case Documents