Hispanic Candidates Hope to Take Seat in Yakima City Council - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hispanic Candidates Hope to Take Seat in Yakima City Council

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YAKIMA, WA - Election day is less than a month away now... And there's a city council candidate forum tonight in Yakima.

For the Yakima city council, Hispanic representatives are few and far between.

"I think more than anything people are extremely excited that we have an opportunity to talk about the neighborhood concerns" says district 1 hopeful Dulce Gutierrez.

Despite Yakima's large Hispanic population, an open district voting format has left Hispanic citizens largely under represented on the city council

"Minorities in Yakima have been misrepresented and since the redistricting it has given them...us, essentially an opportunity to actually run and win” added district 3 candidate Carmen Mendez.

But for some, being a Hispanic candidate doesn't always mean representation for Hispanic voters. Carmen Mendez of district 3 is in a minority, her district being a predominantly white one.

"I think its really important to know that this opportunity was given to everyone, not just the Latino community" continued Mendez.

In years last, the city of Yakima had open elections for council members of all districts, what this meant is anyone in any part of town could vote without having to pick an official from their respective district. After a lawsuit with the ACLU, the city of Yakima had to implement a district based election system, one that would keep candidates from gerrymandering the vote. The outcome? A more accurate representation for a large number of voters.

Five of the fourteen candidates running this year are Hispanic. 12 will be featured in tonight's city council forum.