100 Ideas for New Paltz

83. elect the Town Council by district

Posted in democracy, elections by Jason West on June 11, 2009

Elect members of the Town Council by district, with each district no more than ~1,200 people. Expand the Town Council to ten members to do so.

The smaller the district, the more democratic the election.  Pretty simple.

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3 Responses

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  1. Terence said, on July 3, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    Why do you think we need more members to make this work?

    • Jason West said, on July 3, 2009 at 10:43 pm

      You don’t need to. I guess this is two ideas rolled into one – it’s kind of a “while we’re at it” thing.

      There are a couple reasons I think it would make sense. First, there are ten election districts with roughly equal population already delineated, so we wouldn’t necessarily have to deal with districting power struggles (except the struggle to use EDs for Town Council districts of course).

      Ten Town Coucillors would also mean that each seat would have a small enough population that there could be real constituent service, and the election process would be more open to minority parties winning seats. The smaller the district the weaker the party control. It ouldn’t guarantee it, but it would certainly weaken the system we have now where whoever wins the Democratic caucus wins the election.

      • Terence said, on July 3, 2009 at 11:02 pm

        Okay, I understand your reasoning. Council districting is something I worked on when I was 17, and I think it makes a tremendous amount of sense. The additional ability to both run for the seat and be responsive when in it makes a lot of sense. The village might benefit from this model, as well.

        Toni agrees with the idea, so she’s told me, but we spoke about it with the same number of reps. I’d want to think about the additional cost of adding that many more elected officials, both direct and indirect.

        In any case the biggest argument against is that you lose representation, since the number of people that will now no longer care about your problems because you can’t vote for them anyway goes down. I would say that this is true, but the one rep that you DO vote for knows that his or her seat really does depend on every single vote. I think fear of losing is a good thing for elected officials to have.


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