One quick thing: filing deadline for Republican primary is April 11th!! It's the first step in our new November-centric electoral process.
Ya know, when I "got into" local gubbmint" I couldn't begin to imagine the issues I would eventually be facing. We were in the middle of what has been termed an "immigration event" where the face of the city was radically changing. The Federal lawsuit over definition of a family was in full swing. Our schools are now majority-minority. The percentage of latino residents doubled in 10 years to around 30%.
Yet the face of the governing body hasn't changed at all. It has, in fact, gotten less diverse. Manassas is now goverened by 7 white dudes. For some, that's a problem as the government no longer reflects the electorate. I guess I could agree with that but the government really doesn't reflect the electorate at any level. Half of those in federal office are millionaires. How many women in the GA? That's certainly not how the country looks. I suppose that as long as the government is responsive to the problems of the electorate it isn't that big a deal. However, I'm not sure the city government has done much to address the issues facing our changing city other than hire more police and fire personnel. That's been a major frustration of mine for awhile now.
Just to clarify, in a typical precinct (district, parrish, whatever) system, people that live in a certain part of the jurisdiction are reperesented by a single person. Manassas is a bit different in that all of our elected officials are "at large" meaning you get to vote for (or against I guess) every elected official in Manassas. Manassas already has precincts but that's only to determine where you vote.
As with most issues there are ups and downs on both sides of the thang. Those that support precincts have pushed them so that the elected body more accurately reflects the population. They may, in fact, do that but as my friend Steve rightly points out – elections are won by them that show up. If you want to see a woman (or whatever) elected to office, round up a candidate, some supporters and get after it! I hold no dogmatic predisposition for or against more accurate (whatever that might mean) representation but given my experience on Council so far it seems like a reasonable idea. It's still no substitute for an involved electorate but in the absence of that….
One downside that many do not consider: when precincts are involved: you literally have 1 member of Council who is "yours". Currently all 6 and the Mayor represent you. They have an interest (presumably) in whatever your issue is because they are your representative. If we were to switch to a precinct system and away from at-large, you are not represented by anyone but the person from your precinct. You could certainly lobby those other members of Council but they would no longer directly represent you. That might not matter much if you are trying to get a pot hole patched but when there's a question that affects one particular part of the city – a new development comes to mind – you might want to be able to influence all 6. Again, you could call the Council members not representing you but if it's a tough vote? They're going to vote with their peeps. Hell, we don't have a precinct system and we already see that happening.
What do you think?