The Raleigh City Council has set an August 7 public hearing on whether council terms should be lengthened from the current two years to four. From the Raleigh Public Record comes details of the 5 to 2 vote:
Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Councilor Thomas Crowder voted against the change.
The original suggestion to change the term length came from Councilor John Odom earlier this year. He said it often feels that by the time the councilors are getting down to work, it’s time to campaign again.
Bad idea in my view. Longer terms mean less accountability, which is particularly necessary at the local level where elected officials hold incredible power over citizens’ daily lives. If council members find campaigning a problem, then they have the option not to run at all.
JLF’s Michael Sanera addressed the issue in this recent newsletter.
The Founders did not look at talking with constituents as “pressure,” but as a means for their constituents to communicate their desires to their elected representatives.
In fact, the reason city council members have to spend so much time raising money for their campaigns it that their districts are too large. City districts contain more than 81,000 people, and that means it costs more for them to communicate with their constituents.
If Raleigh used the Founders’ criterion with districts containing 30,000 people, Raleigh would have 13 councilors representing 13 districts. Thus, talking with constituents would cost less and councilors would better represent them.
But Raleigh leaders are not interested in better representation of average citizens. Raleigh holds its elections in October, not November and in odd number years, not even number years. This guarantees that voter turnout will be suppressed and allows special interest groups, not average voters, to dominate city elections.
It is ironic that the liberal-dominated city council remains in power largely because they have rigged their electoral system while they decry the lack of “democracy” in other jurisdictions. They are currently considering a resolution protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case that protects the First Amendment free speech rights of businesses and labor unions.
Some would say that is hypocritical for liberals who support more “democracy” elsewhere to benefit from election procedures that suppress electoral democracy in their own elections. I recommend that they get their own electoral house in order before they criticize other election procedures.
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