Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ward Representation


My sister Liz and I went to a Ward Four Democratic Committee event yesterday at the Cozy Cafe. The event was a forum for candidates for City Council and School Committee. Each candidate was asked his or her position on ward representation, which most likely will appear on the November 6 municipal ballot.

Seven of the nine current city councilors voted in favor of ward representation last October, with Bud Williams and Tim Rooke dissenting. Yesterday's forum gave some of the incumbents a chance to reiterate their support. All but one of yesterday's non-incumbents supported ward representation, although some wished the version-- eight from wards, five at large--was stronger-- Bob Underwood, Vera O'Connor, Jacob Bennett, Lorenzo Gaines, Chris Collins, Clodo Concepcion, Mo Jones, Pat Markey, Orlando Santiago, Hamilton Wray, Gloria DiPhillipo. Karen Powell was the sole "No" vote of those present. Mayoral candidate Dom Sarno reminded us he voted in favor in October.

After twelve years of fighting for ward representation (that's just Arise, some have been fighting much longer), we are finally close to success.

I looked around the forum yesterday and saw a number of excellent candidates for office. Most of them don't have a snowman's chance in hell to be elected. In two years, everything could be different.

Oliverio Designs updated a map showing where elected city councilors have lived for the past 10 years, and it pretty much speaks for itself.

The most common argument against ward representation usually starts with "those people." If "those people" worked harder, came out to vote, etc., people from the un- or underrepresented wards could get candidates elected. But whether it's true or not is not the point. If we can bring down the barrier that makes so many people feel that voting is a pointless exercise, let's do it! Giving more people a greater stake in our city's well-being can only benefit all of us.

2 comments:

John Lysak said...

Michaelann,

I didn't attend yesterday's event, but I would like you to know that I support ward representation. I have spent the majority of my life living in ward eight and don't ever remember a City Councilor from my neighborhood. I have strong feeling toward ward representation, and I feel that large areas of Springfield have been ignored for far too long. Also, it would be easier for neighborhoods to hold their elected officials accountable if they did something that hurt their districts.

I would have liked to have attend yesterday's meeting, but I had a wedding to attend and I didn't receive an invite.

Victor Davila said...

Michaelann,

I am so please that this lack of goverment action was brought to air. During the recent primaries, I was talking to a local City Councilor about Ward representation and the Councilor appeared not to be fully sure of the deadline or what is happenig with the ward representation issue. I have notice that the council has not even begun to add more councilors chair in the council chambers, they appeared not to be in a big rush, or appeared to hope that the electorate will forget. I also find baffling that there is a state rep to be holding up ward representation in the house. As a former candidate I find disheartening the comments that those that did not win in the election did not somehow worked hard enough. I can tell you that I worked very hard with decent results. The curent councilors have the power of the incumbency, which bring money and free press along with it. Aspesct that a challeger often times do not have, or at least not as fluidly as the incumbents. Time does not stop. Real issues, education, job development, decent wages, crime, among an aray of others, keep affecting the monority communities and the disfranchised. The city councilors and school commitee have proven that they can not be any more effective: and I am being kind with my description. The only way that these real issues will start seeing some meaningful change is by having the local goverment be representative of the city's population, and Ward Representation is the venue for it.