Wednesday, May 12, 2010

At-Large Proposal

Group wants 'four by four'

By Zach Lindsey
LAREDO MORNING TIMES
Published: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:50 AM CDT
“Four by four” is what they’re calling the proposal — a plan to change the City of Laredo’s style of government from eight district-based council members to four district-based members and four at-large members, who would be elected by the entire city.


Members of a group calling itself Democracy 4 Laredo, and some members of Laredo’s City Charter Review Committee, have drafted a petition to vote on moving Laredo to the combination system.

I don't know that the idea of four council members representing the whole city is all it's cracked up to be.  For some reason, I don't think that system would give us better candidates.  The whole point of having at-large spots is to have more diversity in the makeup of the council, or school board.  But let's take the city council, for instance.  It's made up of Hispanic-surnamed working class people.  The same people who brought us El Portal, the non-existent retail center across from the airport, and higher bus fares.  If a certain demographic is under-represented here it's rich people.  This community has spoken loudly against those candidates (Bruni, C.Y. Benavides, Tano Tijerina). 

And having seats filled with pols that govern the entire population are said to bring us more fiscal restraint.  It could happen.  But somebody who is going to represent the entire city is going to have more complaints from more constituents coming his/her way.  And they'll all have suggestions pouring in for the construction of a water park, because that's what the people really want.

Most people who run for office here are strapped for cash.  It would get tougher for most to have to reach more people.  As it is, our representatives do a poor job of going out to meet their constituents.  Oh sure, they're out at church jamaicas, 5K races, and dances, but it's more of a social call than anything.  We don't get to discuss the issues facing the community.  How are they going to know what's best for the community when they don't get out there to hear our concerns.  Dr. Landeck has had one town hall meeting in the Chacon during the last three years.  Making time for more people doesn't seem practical.

At-large districts could be good for Laredo.  More people would have a say over who gets elected.  I just don't think we would get a better crop of reps that would be up to the challenge of overseeing the bigger picture. 

Oh, and Democracy 4 Laredo, get your act together and give me a website (http://www.4atlarge.com/) that actually exists. 

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