Anaheim City Council Hopeful Can Use Spanish Surname, Court Says

A last name like Chavez can go a long way with voters in Southern California.

In a city like Anaheim, where over half the population is Latino, appealing to Hispanics can be key for some political hopefuls.

The controversy surrounding city council candidate Steven Chavez Lodge began when political blogger Cynthia Ward filed a lawsuit alleging that Lodge was using the Latino surname purely for political gain.

As Ward told the local Anaheim TV station KABC, "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."

"This isn't about race. I don't want anything to think it has ever been. I'm just looking for accuracy," Ward said.

As ABC reports, while Lodge has assured the public that the name Chavez is on his birth certificate, he has failed to include the name on his campaign contributions and his voter registration.

While initially an Orange County superior judge banned Lodge from using the surname Chavez, he has since reversed his decision.

With the new decision, Lodge will be able to use the surname Chavez under the condition that his middle name Albert is included as well.

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

Before the decision was made, Lodge took to his campaign's Facebook page posting photos of his father and grandparents as proof of his Latino heritage.

Early evidence in the case concurred with Ward's findings as Judge Charles Margines made his initial decision that, "The overwhelming evidence shows that he [Lodge] has not used "Chavez" as a last name or middle name in any documented transactions or government filings until August 2012."

However, once Lodge's lawyer presented evidence that Lodge had used Chavez in an earlier court case Margines was forced to reverse the decision.

With his campaign now moving forward, Lodge is hoping to become the fourth Latino ever to serve on the Anaheim city council in the city's 150 year history.