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Yakima City Council Proposes Drastic Redistricting Plan in Response to ACLU Lawsuit

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YAKIMA, WA. -- The Yakima City Council has revealed its response to an ACLU lawsuit with a drastic redistricting plan. But the ACLU says the plan isn't enough. 

After weeks of secrecy on the issue, the City of Yakima has finally released a concrete plan that will change the entire way Yakima residents vote for city council members. 

Currently there are 4 voting districts and 3 at-large seats on city council. The new voting system would have 5 single districts with 2 at-large seats. Those two at large seats would be for the mayor and assistant mayor, voted on by a popular vote of the entire city. 

"I think this is a fair plan," Francis Floyd, a lawyer from Floyd, Pfluerger and Ringer. "We're submitting it to the court for approval and we'll just see what happens."

A key component is the location of the new voting districts. 53% of voting eligible citizens in District 1 would be Latino. District 5 would be 1/3 Latino with a potential majority population in the future.

The new plan also pits incumbents against each other. Four current council members live in district 2, and 2 in District 3.

"This isn't like we looked at this and said we're going set it up the way we want and to stack the deck," Mayor Micah Cawley said. "We're trying to comply it's just a very difficult process and I don't know what's going to happen."

Not all council members are on board. In fact, the redistricting plan passed by the slimmest of margins in a 4 to 3 vote. 

"I think it's not good for Yakima," Council member Rick Ensey said. "It will create a system where council members are only interested in satisfying their districts needs and not look at the city as a whole."

Now the plan will be sent to the judge on Friday. No matter what his decision will be, we can be sure that there could be some serious changes to city council on the horizon. 

The ACLU rejected the city's redistricting plan. They will submit a plan of their own that will include 7 single voting districts and no at large positions.

City council members also made it very clear that they are reserving the right to appeal the decision at a later date.