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Understanding CVRA Lawsuits and Why hasn't Sebastian Cazares resigned yet?
What You Need to Know About the CVRA Lawsuit and the Fallout Surrounding Sebastian Cazares' Involvement
2020 was a rough year for everyone; it was the year we learned liquor stores were "essential," but your favorite place of worship was not. In addition, it was the year we learned how viruses spread in large gatherings like protests; apparently, viruses DO transmit if you are protesting to be let off house arrest but DO NOT transmit if you are protesting for "social justice" only 11 days later.
A lot of nonsense was being thrown at our community, so understandably, most people missed what was happening on the College of the Canyons campus. Nihilist Marxists, who had been getting into position for years, finally got the Signal from their communist overlords to execute "Order 66." We already covered some of COC's race to the bottom; what we still need to cover is the College of the Canyons teachers purchasing themselves a shiny new Board of Trustees seat and putting a 20-year-old named Sebastian Cazares in that seat. Unfortunately, we could not confirm if Sebastian is named after Lil Sebastian from Park & Rec.
Sebastian Cazares ran for Santa Clarita Community College District Trustee Area 3 against long-time Santa Clarita businessman Fred Arnold. It doesn't even look like a contest on paper, as Fred Arnold would have the resources to self-fund his campaign. However, what most people didn’t know was that Mr. Cazares had an ace up his sleeve with the support of the College of the Canyons Faculty Association (COCFA) PAC. Which essentially fully funded his campaign, giving him more resources than most City Council races.
COCFA funds its PAC through a clever monthly subscription model that allows its teachers to fill out a form and have a small donation deducted from their payroll. The group has a stated goal of "flipping the board," which they appear to be hiding by scrubbing the content from their "flip-the-board" webpage, but the internet is forever. So it's unsurprising that COCFA has backed the usual Democrat candidates, including Edel Alonso, Jerry Danielsen, and Sebastian Cazares.
We don't have exact numbers but the COCFA gave these 3 candidates well over six figures. Danielsen received 20k+, Cazares 30k+ and Alonso received well over 40k.
If you have been following Signal news lately, you may recognize the name, Sebastian Cazares. He is connected to the recent CVRA lawsuit that seeks to establish districts within the Santa Clarita City Council. One of the districts is designed to benefit a Latino candidate through gerrymandering. But, of course, everyone in City Hall knew that Districts were inevitable. Unsurprisingly, this lawsuit came back around since the settlement from the last California Voters Rights Act (CVRA) lawsuit still didn’t comply with the CVRA fully.
What happened last time with the CRVA Lawsuit?
Kevin Shenkman, an attorney who profits by suing non-compliant California cities under CVRA, brought the last CVRA lawsuit in 2013. The City settled the case by agreeing to shift council elections from April to November and proposing a flawed voting system bound to fail in court. This system would have enabled voters to heavily stack their votes on a single candidate, akin to bullet voting on steroids.
Bullet voting is when an individual votes for only one candidate, even if they can vote for more. Such a vote can significantly influence an election outcome. For example, if there are three candidates and a voter casts their ballot for only one, that candidate has a greater chance of winning since they have an extra vote than the remaining two candidates.
Under this flawed voting scheme, voters could have cast all their votes for a single candidate, so if three seats were available, they could put all three of their votes on one candidate. However, since this system was destined to fail in court, the City was obligated to spend $250,000 to defend it as part of the settlement. Once the legal defense cost reached this threshold, the City could abandon supporting the voting scheme, which was inevitably doomed to fail.
The claim that Latinos have been denied a fair shake in our elections is silly. Santa Clarita will vote for competent leadership regardless of the boxes the person checks.
Ironically, while the 2013 CVRA lawsuit was ongoing, Santa Clarita witnessed its first Latino city council member, Dante Acosta, elected to an at-large position in an April city-run election. Acosta held this seat for a little over 24 months until the tragic passing of Sharon Runner, which prompted both him and Scott Wilk to change their focuses. Wilk decided to run for Sharon's Senate seat in the 21st District, while Acosta ran for Scott's seat in California Assembly District 38. Both candidates were successful in the 2016 elections. The city council would appoint another Latino, Bill Miranda, to finish Acosta's term. Miranda would go on to win in 2018 and 2022.
The claim that Latinos have been denied a fair shake in our elections is silly. Santa Clarita will vote for competent leadership regardless of the boxes the person checks. Why is the City not fighting the racist gerrymandering attempts by this most recent lawsuit? What exactly does the City's legal council do if they don't see the problem with this aspect of the proposed settlement? The entire concept of districts is to give people in a given geographical area a representative listening to that area's needs. The needs and concerns are different in different regions of the City. If you live around the mall, your concerns will differ from those of someone living in Canyon Country. This attempted gerrymandered district would snake through the eastern part of the City from Newhall to Canyon Country to make a Latino-dominant district.
Another partisan motive behind the CVRA lawsuit settlement is to oust Cameron Smyth or Jason Gibbs. The settlement mandates that only two seats can be up for reelection in 2024, and one of those seats must be from the remedial District. However, since both Smyth nor Gibbs is up for reelection in 2024 and neither resides in the proposed District, the council must determine which other District would be up for election. The local democrats seemingly employ the adage "if you can't beat them, cheat them" to accomplish their objectives. Unfortunately, it is always the people that scream the loudest about attacks on democracy that do the most damage to it.
You are now caught up to our current situation if you weren't already. In short, Mr. Cazares likes Districts; he thinks they are needed and essential. He, after all, was elected via districts; he currently holds the seat for Santa Clarita Community College District Trustee Area 3. There is only one massive problem: Sebastian Cazares doesn't live in his District or the City of Santa Clarita. You heard that right; the guy suing over geographical representation believes he is above such things.
Like any 22-year-old, Sebastian is attending College at UCLA; he no longer lives at his family home in Saugus. Instead, it appears Mr. Cazares lives in the Westmont neighborhood of Los Angeles proper. What is particularly frustrating about this situation is that it seems to be common knowledge among inner political circles, which also means that all the media (Signal & KHTS) has to know that Mr. Cazares doesn't live in our community and yet is in charge of making decisions over people who do live in our community. If the media didn't know, that is probably a more significant problem; it means they are unaware of what is happening in our community.
The last time we had a school board member not living in the District they were elected to represent was in 2013 with Stephen Winkler. Winkler is too big a situation to dive into here, but let's say the Saugus Union board tried to do everything possible to unseat Winkler, even hiring a private investigator and all of it came up short. Until ironically Mike Cruz the other plaintiff on the CVRA lawsuit showed up with copies of restraining order signed by Winkler under penalty of perjury that his home address was Sylmar. That did the trick and SUSD finally had what they needed to remove Winkler from his seat.
It is time for Sebastian Cazares to do the right thing and resign from this seat and allow someone that actually lives in our community and has to live with the decisions that this board makes. Shame on Wendy Brill-Wynkoop who was the Committee Chair of COCFA that gave Sebastian all this money when he had no intention of actually preforming his job duties in good faith. We hope you do better and don’t repeat this mistake by giving someone like perennial candidate Andrew Taban who is rumored to be eyeballing a run at the COC board, but who doesn't even have a college degree. Everyone involved with this situation needs to do better from the board of trustee to our local media all of which had to of known Sebastian doesn’t live in the district. Now make this right.