SVREP Statement on the Passing of Joaquin G. Avila
Joaquin Avila Presente! 

(San Antonio) – Southwest Voter Registration Education Project (SVREP) and Latinos across the country mourn the passing of voting rights attorney Joaquin G. Avila.
“Joaquin Avila transformed the political landscape in the southwest by winning voting rights cases that empowered the political potential of the Latino community. Among his most important contributions Joaquin Avila crafted the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)”, said Antonio González, SVREP President.
While at MALDEF, Mr. Avila was counsel in a Texas district court case that held that cities and school boards are “political jurisdictions” as defined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He served as MALDEF’s president and general counsel from 1982 to 1985. He litigated more than 70 voting rights cases.
As President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), Avila and SVREP partnered to use the federal Voting Rights Act to transform scores of at-large voting systems to single member districts especially in Texas.
On Friday, March 9, 2018, Mr. Avila passed away surrounded by his family in Seattle at the age of 69. He is survived by his wife, Sally; his children, Joaquin, Angelique and Salvador.
In 1988, Mr. Avila served as co-counsel in  Garza v. County of Los Angeles, a landmark voting rights lawsuit that forced Los Angeles County to create the first Latino majority district. This case gave way to electing Gloria Molina as the first Latin@ to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1991.
Mr. Avila received numerous awards throughout his career, including a 1996 MacArthur fellowship. He was declared by the California State Assembly to be a “voting rights gladiator.”
SVREP is currently using the CVRA to challenge dozens of California municipalities and school districts that use unfair at-large election systems that in practice block effective Latino voter participation.

¡ Joaquin Avila Presente!