A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas alleges that the city of Helena-West Helena's actions to repeal the vote of the people regarding ward changes and the reduction of council members, “Trampled on the rights of more than 10,000 residents of the city.” The lawsuit was filed by attorney James Valley on behalf of Elijah Mondy.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas alleges that the city of Helena-West Helena's actions to repeal the vote of the people regarding ward changes and the reduction of council members, “Trampled on the rights of more than 10,000 residents of the city.” The lawsuit was filed by attorney James Valley on behalf of Elijah Mondy.

The lawsuit requests that the initiated ordinance overwhelmingly approved by voters in the November 2016 general election be reinstated and that the ward-changing map be implemented immediately in time for the 2018 city elections.

After the lawsuit was filed, Mondy commented that he was saddened because of the necessity to seek action in court but saw no other alternative.

“It sickens me that over 50 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act we are having to go to court to defend the vote of the citizens...” commented Mondy.

Besides alleging federal rights violations, the lawsuit also contends that the city council and Mayor Jay Hollowell did not follow state law in attempting to repeal the ordinance. Because of the failure of their effort the lawsuit claims the initiated ordinance should be declared in effect immediately.

The lawsuit alleges two fatal flaws associated with the city council's ordinance repealing the initiated act. First, the suit says the ordinance's emergency clause did not establish a true emergency as Amendment 7 of the Arkansas Constitution requires. The second fatal flaw, the suit contends is that the city failed to publish the ordinance in a timely manner in a newspaper of general circulation in the community as required by law.

Valley stated that the city's omission of those two actions void the council's ordinance and the people's vote should stand.

“This case appears to be a slam dunk for Mr. Mondy and the class he represents,” said Valley. “I look forward to taking this to the courtroom.”

Valley went on to say that, “The rights of the voters should be treated as sacrosanct. This city council trampled all over those rights...”

The lawsuit is seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the city to implement the ordinance and hold elections in 2018 using a map submitted that complies with all applicable state and federal laws. It also seeks a restraining order prohibiting the city from taking any action to impede the implementation of that ordinance.

Named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Helena-West Helena mayor and the members of the city council.