Monday, November 5, 2012

Is it time to revisit reducing the number of city council wards?

In St. Louis, there is a proposition on the ballot which calls for a reduction of city council wards there. Currently their city council (referred to as Board of Alderman) has 28 members from the 28 wards. The proposition would reduce that number in half to 14. You can check the pro-proposition website by clicking picture to the left.

The arguments made at this post over at UrbanReviewSTL is almost similar to arguments made here in Chicago:
Many of you may not think it’d make a difference or the reduction would be negative, reducing your access. The problem with that way of thinking is we’re paying 28 people to legislate but we go to them for tasks better solved by an empowered city staff.

Our aldermen can’t look at the big picture needs of the city because they are fielding calls about pot holes, stop signs and replacement dumpsters. This is partly their fault, it worked great for making voters feel like they help. But this is no way to run a city.
Since we here in Chicago also depend on our Aldermen for basic city services from pot holes to trash pickup to traffic signs, if Chicago were to reduce their number of Aldermen then the basic job description must change here as well. Although in arguing for this I will consider arguments made during the recent remap especially for many people who weren't happy about being drawn out of the 6th ward. If there were a legal challenge or a reduction in city wards, then the remap wouldn't be as drastic as it turned out to be this time around.

Also, during the remap process late last year and earlier this year, there were a number of proposals put forward. Some of those plans were favored by members of the city council. Especially the current plan that will be implemented in the near future. One plan was put forward by a 6th Ward resident would've kept the ward map the same as it was the past decade. Another map proposed by a city Alderman would've reduced the number of wards from 50 to 35. You can check other redistricting posts at this blog here!

Is there anyone out there willing to stick their neck out to roll out such a proposal in this city, even if it was put up in a non-binding referendum? Do you think a reduction in city council wards would be idea who's time has come?

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