Throughout the years I’ve been involved with politics I’ve heard many empty claims of voter suppression used by politicians to justify their electoral losses.
And although I know several states have a history of voter suppression, and I saw voter suppression in Texas while growing up in the form of a poll tax, I never thought I would see a government entity here in California try to suppress the vote, but boy was I wrong.
Earlier this month Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer brought an emergency item to add consideration of an emergency motion to take action to add vote centers to West Palmdale. He had just been made aware of LA County’s plan to install zero Vote Centers and election day polling locations in West Palmdale. Mayor Hofbauer’s item for the council to consider was hiring a respected law firm to defend the voting rights of the tens of thousands of residents who live west of Sierra Highway. While I applauded and supported the Mayor’s motion, I thought it was a no brainer, after all, who in their right mind would vote against supporting hard-working Palmdale citizens? Again, boy was I wrong.
I was shocked, and frankly appalled, when Councilwoman Laura Bettencourt voted against allowing the item to even be placed on the agenda.
When the Mayor pressed her on the issue, Laura’s comment was, “I don’t live on the west-end.” Wow! Not only was I surprised that LA County wanted to openly try to suppress the vote of half the city of Palmdale, I couldn’t believe that one of our councilmembers, one running for Mayor no less, was such a willing accomplice in this flagrant violation of civil rights.
I’m encouraging every voter to not only make a plan to vote but take notice of who is and who is not fighting for you. Our Mayor needs to be someone who represents all of Palmdale, not just one district, or one half of its residents.
Laura’s vote, not to mention her comments, show she is unfit to serve as Mayor. But please, don’t just take my word for it. Go to the city of Palmdale’s website and watch the first few minutes of the 5 p.m. session of the October 6th council meeting and see for yourself.
In an October 20th article, the AV Press noted that Palmdale has now received two additional election day polling locations, and many ballot drop off locations.
What the press did not do however, is give credit where credit is due. Without the hard work of Mayor Hofbauer this issue would never have come before the council, where ultimately the remaining 4 councilmembers overcame Bettencourt’s unconscionable vote and pressed the county for more.
Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer fought for all the residents of Palmdale, knowing that many of them are not going to end up voting for him, but fighting for their rights anyway. Unfortunately, that’s a lot more than I can say for his opponent.
Richard Loa is the Palmdale mayor pro-tem.