Ward Only Elections

Ward Only Elections

Jim Sinex, schoolteacher and Democrat activist, is leading the charge for a change in the City Charter that would change the way councilmen are elected. Currently, a candidate – who must reside in the ward – is nominated in the ward, and elected citywide. Now, intuitively, it seems obvious that the councilman ought to be accountable to the people he represents; and accountability, in this situation, can be defined in terms of re-election. So, why not “Ward Only” elections.

Well, yeah, but what do Councilmen really do? Do their votes, responsibilities, and policies concern only their wards; or do much, perhaps most, of their activity concern the municipality as a whole? Should they therefore be accountable to the municipality as a whole? Are the residency requirement and the ward only nomination sufficient to ensure representation of the ward? Does the citywide election provide appropriate citywide accountability?

Unfortunately, these questions are not being asked. Each side points at the other and accuses it of partisan motivations. One can infer from his website, that Sinex views Kathleen Dunbar, who supports the current system, as a cynical pragmatist; yet, when she voted on the plan to remove the reversible lane from Grant Road, she voted with the people in her ward and against the Eastsiders who presumably are more likely to vote for her than her constituents in deepest, darkest, Kerry Kountry. Honorable people seldom need sticks or carrots.

There will be more press on this as the election draws near. Expect some partisan wrangling. So what is the answer? Sometimes things are just way too simple. People should directly elect their representative – that means ward only, not citywide.