Orange County News

Lawsuit accuses candidate of adding Latino name to appeal to Anaheim voters

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A retired policeman who's running for Anaheim City Council is the target of a lawsuit over the name he's using on the ballot. The candidate is being accused of trying to mislead voters.

More turmoil in the city of Anaheim where civil unrest followed two fatal police shootings of suspected gang members in July. That's after the city was sued by the ACLU over its at-large voting system. The ACLU alleges the system marginalizes the Latino majority in the city.

There are now allegations that candidate Steven Chavez Lodge, who is running for city council, may be using a Latino name for political gain.

"I'm very proud of my heritage and my ethnicity and nobody can take who I am away from me," said Lodge.

Political blogger Cynthia Ward filed a lawsuit against Lodge accusing him of using the Latino name Chavez for political gain.

"The name he's given for his ballot is Steve Chavez Lodge. But he's been known as Steve Lodge in a lot of the documents that I've seen for years. I've found him going by Steve Lodge from as far back as at least high school," said Ward.

Lodge, a retired Santa Ana city homicide detective, says he was born Steven Albert Chavez. It's on his birth certificate, and he only changed his name to Lodge when he was 12 years old after his mother married his stepfather.

"He was a mentor in my life, a good role model," he said. "It's a frivolous lawsuit. There's no merit to it. I've used that name my whole life."

Ward remains skeptical of the candidate's motivation to use Chavez on the election ballot, so she wants a judge to decide if the name Chavez should appear on the November ballot.

"I don't think there is anything frivolous about electing the people that are asking to lead our community for the next four to eight years," said Ward. "Anaheim is at a crossroads right now that I want to make sure the people of Anaheim have accurate information that they can base their votes on."

No word yet on when that lawsuit will make its way in front of a judge.

The city of Anaheim has only had three Latino city council members in the city's history.

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