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MCNEIL v. SPRINGFIELD PARK DIST.

August 13, 1987

FRANK MCNEIL, WILLIAM H. WASHINGTON, SR., RUDOLPH
v.
DAVENPORT, ARCHIE LAWRENCE, AND HOWARD VEAL, SR., PLAINTIFFS, V. SPRINGFIELD PARK DISTRICT AND THE SPRINGFIELD ELECTION COMMISSION, DEFENDANTS, FRANK MCNEIL, WILLIAM H. WASHINGTON, SR., RUDOLPH V. DAVENPORT, ARCHIE LAWRENCE, AND HOWARD VEAL, SR., PLAINTIFFS, V. SPRINGFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 186 AND THE SPRINGFIELD ELECTION COMMISSION, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mills, District Judge:

OPINION ORDER

Voting Rights Act violation?

No.

Summary judgment for the School District and the Park District.

These cases have been consolidated for purposes of ruling on Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs' complaints challenge the method of electing park board trustees and school board members under § 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1973, asserting that the at-large election systems impair the ability of minority voters to elect representatives of their choice.

I — PROCEDURAL HISTORY

After the filing of the complaint in the park district suit, Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on March 9, 1987. On March 20, 1987, this Court held a hearing on the motion and denied the request to enjoin the upcoming elections. On April 2, 1987, we entered a written opinion fully setting out our reasons for denying injunctive relief. McNeil v. Springfield Park District, 656 F. Supp. 1200 (C.D.Ill. 1987).

Following the period of discovery, Defendants moved for summary judgment on June 17, 1987. Plaintiffs requested and were granted an extension of time in which to respond and filed their response on July 24, 1987. We have considered the extensive memoranda submitted by the parties along with the affidavits and other supporting materials of record. The motion is now ripe for our ruling.

The school district suit has followed approximately the same time table with the exception of the timing of the preliminary injunction motion. Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction was filed on May 19, 1987. The motion is still pending; however, our decision on the summary judgment motion moots the question of whether Plaintiffs are entitled to preliminary relief.

II — FACTS

A. School District

1. Present Election System

Defendant Board of Education is a seven-member body established under the School Code of the State of Illinois, Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, to manage and govern the schools within District 186. Positions on the board of education are unpaid. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, ¶ 10-10 22-1 (1985).

Elections to the board are at-large and non-partisan. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 46, ¶ 2A-1.2(e)(1), and ch. 122, ¶¶ 10-3, 10-4 and 10-10 (1985). There are no limits to how many candidates may appear on the ballot; any adult citizen of the district who files a timely nomination petition with 50 signatures may appear on the ballot. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, ¶ 9-10 (1985). There are no primaries or majority vote requirements for elections to the school board. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 46, ¶ 2A-1.2(e)(1), and ch. 122, ¶¶ 10-3, 10-4, and 10-10 (1985).

Prior to 1981, members of the board served staggered 3-year terms. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, ¶¶ 10-4, 10-10 (1979). Elections were held each year in April for two or three open seats. Id. Because of a change in state law in 1981, board members are now elected to 4-year terms and elections are held in November of every odd-numbered year. The year 1983 was a transitional one. Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 122, ¶¶ 10-4 and 10-10. That election involved two 2-year terms and three 4-year terms.

2. Population Data

According to the 1980 United States Census, the population of District 186 is 122,997, of which 110,485 are white (89.82%), 11,217 are black (9.1%), and ...


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