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Fate of Farmers Branch Elections in Judge's hands

By BJ Austin

Dallas, TX – The tensions of Anglo-Hispanic relations in Farmers Branch were squeezed into competing statistical charts and graphs in a Dallas federal courtroom. Judge Reed O'Connor heard two days of detailed, number-crunching, election results testimony from political science experts on both sides of the Hispanic challenge to the at large council elections.

Bob Heath, attorney for Farmers Branch, says the plaintiffs distorted the stats to eek out the required 50% registered Hispanic voting population in the proposed,, new district. He believes the judge will look at all the numbers and not the political argument of at-large vs. single member election districts.

Heath: "It's not about whether good or bad. That's a decision for the City Council to make. And they can make it in accordance with what what's best for that community in their view."

But attorney for the plaintiffs, Domingo Garcia says a white, at-large voting bloc negates a large percentage of the Hispanic vote, and Farmers Branch needs help from the court to bring City Hall representation to a growing segment of the population.

Garcia: "We found out under 14-1 in Dallas that when Latinos were elected, the city didn't fall into the ground. The city kept prospering, continues to grow. And Latinos have made a positive impact and a positive influence on the growth of Dallas - just like they will in Farmers Branch. But we've just got to get past the fear factor."

Both sides will file additional findings of fact supporting their positions in the coming weeks. A ruling from the Judge comes much later.