There has been talk lately around the California Legislature that cities of over 100,000 in population be required to elect their city councils on a district rather than an at-large basis. The assumption, according to Assemblyman Rodger Hernandez (D-West Covina) who advocates this strategy is that district elections would assure more diversity on the local level.
As most cities are divided by wealthier and poorer areas, Progressives believe that perceived racism and inequality would be addressed by making this change. Such a notion is yet another example of the liberal legislature in Sacramento trying to impose social engineering schemes on local constituents who they feel lack the ability to elect qualified representatives on their own.
Ironically, re-apportionment done by the legislature once a decade has historically been designed only to provide safe districts for incumbents rather than creating better opportunities for under represented constituencies.
District elections are nothing new. On a county level, they are utilized throughout the country including Contra Costa County. In cities, they have been in place in San Francisco, New York and other metropolitan areas for years.
About District Elections
Under this system, members of City Councils, like County Supervisors, are accountable to an electorate from a specific geographical area or district. They are asked to concern themselves principally with this group in their overall decision making. Along with this it is believed elections will be less controlled by large special interest groups as a candidate can concentrate their campaigns in a smaller geographical area.
As an example, we can look to the scrutiny that local governments have over their budgets and city operations. Do we want to trade this for a model where responsibility for the entire community is decentralized to district representatives? Most likely not.
Under district elections, money would actually be a larger factor in elections. With funds coming from both the political parties it might prove even more difficult for the little guy to be elected. Again, unintended consequences result when tinkering with a system that is already working better than on any other levels of government.
Not to be forgotten is the notion that district elections would result in more qualified officer holders than those elected to city Council positions today. There seems to be an assumption on the part of Assemblyman Roger Hernandez that medium sized cities are ruled by bigoted racists who only concern themselves with the wealthy and the privileged. Some hurt must be avenged. Hernandez must believe that District elections will rectify this perceived discrimination which he says violates civil rights statutes.
There is no data or empirical evidence to back up this class warfare argument. Such pronouncements from Progressives follow the discredited Marxist notion that a just society can only be achieved by having the proletariat hold political power over the masses. This certainly does not describe life in Contra Costa County. And truth be told, on most Animal Farms, such schemes usually elevate the loudest Leftist elites to power, who then start digging in to protect their power, and pretend to speak for the lumpen proletariate, while living the high life playing golf instead of governing.
Are District Elections an evil conspiracy that should be avoided at all costs? Of course not. It is true that in many cases when cities grow in size and voters feel that they are disenfranchised, office holders being accountable to a smaller constituency can make sense. However, for this to take place, a population over 250,000 people is normally needed for district elections to even be considered.
I personally don’t care if Concord, where I reside, has district elections or not. While I oppose them, this decision should be determined by a direct vote of the people. It should be their choice that determines which system is right for them.
What bothers me is where the State of California might try to impose their will on cities to decide how they elect their representatives. Such a trend worries me with the intrusion of regional government organizations such as ABAG and the MTC along with the legislature taking local control away from the urban planning process.
Adding insult to injury, we also find the state putting strings on local governments on how they are to spend tax dollars on fixing roads, sewers, and infrastructure that has normally come under their jurisdiction. Unless credible opposition is realized, the Super Majority in the legislature will continue to pass laws that increase the power of Sacramento over their minions, and we won’t have effective municipal government at all.
Trying to push forward District Elections is another example of Progressives trying to impose their agenda of social change whenever they can. Judging from the recent performance of government efficiency on the State and national levels, we need to be wary of having them assuming more power over local communities.
Life has taught us that whenever someone tells you they are an expert on anything, it’s time to put on the PF Fliers and run like hell!