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Updated Voice and accountability
 

Updated Voice and accountability

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  • What is geographic representation? A. Geographic representation for the City of Gresham means that each citizen gets to vote for her or his council member, a council member from the voters district, a council member who represents that voter and the voter neighborhoods, and is aware of that area’s interests.
  • Ballot Measure No. 26-86 Section 9A, Citizen Involvement required both Mayor and City Manager to report annually progress in involving citizen in City Governance.
  • Table 1 (3,895 cities participated in election method survey based on population growth trends) *at-large, district and mixed.

Updated Voice and accountability Updated Voice and accountability Presentation Transcript

  • The Geo Politics of 2012 Gresham, Oregon Based on Testimony Given at Gresham City Council February 7, 2012 Geographic Representation
  • Gresham Citizen Ballot Initiative
    • A newly formed growing coalition of citizens are pursuing a ballot measure that would amend the city charter to require the majority of city council members to be elected from at least six geographic districts. This initiative is still in the formative stages and continues to gather citizen feedback and has set the target of November 2012 General Election for citizen approval
    • We are also seeking the support of a broad coalition of community organizations and encourage Gresham City Council to join this effort
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Citizen Initiative Outreach to Formal Bridge Organizations for Feedback
    • City Council
    • City Charter Review Committee
    • Individual Neighborhood Associations
    • Neighborhood Association Coalition
    • Council Citizen Involvement Advisory Committee
    • Gresham Redevelopment Commission
    • Finance Committee
    • Public Safety Committee
    • Natural Resources and Sustainability Committee
    • Community Organizations, etc.
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Citizen Voice and Neighborhood Associations Role
    • City Revised Code – 2.60.010 Purpose
      • “ The purpose of neighborhood associations is to provide a formal way for neighborhoods to communicate with the city .”
      • 2.60.020” Neighborhood Association is a volunteer group of people organized within a geographical area for the purpose of acting on issues affecting neighborhood and community livability.”
      • Association Responsibility – 2.60.050 “may make official recommendations to the council, its commissions, committees, and the manager on any matter affecting livability.”
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Coalition of Neighborhood Associations
    • Gresham Revised Code – 2.60.080
    • A volunteer group made up of the elected board members of all recognized neighborhood associations
    • This group acts as support for the leaders of the neighborhood associations to enable more effective cooperation
    • The Coalition shall serve as a liaison between the neighborhood associations and city hall
    • The Coalition may make official recommendations to the Council and Manager on any matter affecting livability of the neighborhoods
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Citizen Involvement Committee
    • Gresham Revised Code, Article 2.36
      • 2.36.010 – “The membership shall be broadly representative of geographical areas and community interests within the city.”
      • 2.36.030 – Purpose, Powers and Duties
        • “ The purpose and function of the CIC is to advise the Mayor and Council on the development and implementation of programs designed to facilitate citizen involvement in the deliberative process by promoting citizen engagement and involvement in all aspects of governance…initiate outreach to those groups that are underrepresented in governance of the city”
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • CIC City Code Statement on Geographic representation
    • Gresham Revised Code, Article 2.36.040 subsections (2) c, g,
      • Promote, develop, and facilitate citizen involvement opportunities throughout all geographical regions of the city
      • Develop and maintain program metrics to measure the scope and effectiveness of the city’s citizen involvement program in all aspects of city governance
      • Would voter turnout by neighborhood association CIC study help us decide if the exclusive at-large election system is achieving promised results?
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • How Did We Get Here? 02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • What does the Map Indicate About Elections in Gresham?
    • The fact that emerges is that large parts of Gresham are not represented or are grossly underrepresented
    • Recent election history exposes extent of representation disparities
    • This moves the levers of democracy in the favor of a select few contiguous neighborhoods and, in fact, with a majority in a single neighborhood
    • Is this a new revelation?
    • Is the City Council committed to gaining voter approval for Council Districts that would provide for equitable geographical representation?
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Geographic Representation?
    • Does the absence of Voting Districts create serious representation consequences?
      • What is the definition of voting by district?
        • Each citizen gets to vote for her or his council member, a council member from the voters district, a council member who represents that voter and the voters neighborhood and is aware of their district interests!
      • Is this issue a major root cause of voter apathy, disengagement and citizen lack of meaningful involvement ?
      • Is it true that 80% of the city is not geographically represented?
      • Does recent low voter turnout and uncontested City Council and Mayoral races a result of exclusive at-large elections?
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Unanswered Questions for City Council Feedback
    • It has been 25 years (1986 May Ballot Measure No 51) since the citizen voting community approved exclusive at-large voter districts. Is it time to revisit current citizen voice on at-large election system by placing this issue on the November 2012 Ballot?
    • It has been 25 years (1986 November Ballot Measure No. 53) since voters approved the level for Charter Amendments from 50% to 60%. Was this done to protect the May Ballot Measure 51 from being overturned?
    • Is it true that a minority of 40% can block a Charter amendment?
    • Is this another example of reducing citizen controls on government?
    • Could this lack of ongoing geographic representation be causing the City Council members to be less accessible and responsive?
    • Is the current at-large electoral system the primary cause of the high cost of campaigning and low voter turnout?
    • Does this high cost of running for public office discourage candidates therefore placing it out of reach and resources of all but those with high income and special interest groups?
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Exclusive At-Large Districts
    • Do exclusive at-large voting districts dampen citizen voice and accountability?
    • What is the current cost to those who feel disenfranchised by Gresham’s exclusive at-large election system?
    • Could the City Council do more to level the playing field?
    • By a vote of 70%+ in 1998, Gresham citizens passed a City Charter Measure (Measure No. 26-86) which directs City Council to promote citizen involvement in city governance and which requires the Mayor and City Manager to report annually about citizen involvement progress. Many are puzzled why single voter districts took so long to be reconsidered when it has been a proven method for citizen engagement and involvement in direct governance.
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Growth and Expansion
    • Due to our rapid growth and expansion, does the current electoral system contribute to downtown being a disproportionate beneficiary of the city’s public investment in facilities and services?
    • Can you think of any examples of some neighborhoods being deprived of essential infrastructure investment and services?
    • Has the Gresham exclusive at-large election process reduced the influence of single neighborhood associations and exacerbated the reoccurring problem of too many neighborhood associations being in an inactive status?
    • Had Southwest, Centennial and Hollybrook Neighborhood Associations been part of a single voter district would the original 2004 City Council approval for a Superstore at 181 st Street have happened?
    • Can you think of other similar neighborhood examples?
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Citizen Voice and Council Accountability?
    • The at-large election system means that all citizens – all 105,000+ of us are represented by every member of the city council
    • This current at-large election system fails to make any one council member responsible and accountable for our district concerns, or those of our neighbors
    • When every council member is responsible to every citizen, by definition, no one council member is responsible or accountable to a particular citizen.
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • The Balance of Political Power?
    • Has the current electoral system changed significantly the balance of power between the Mayor, City Council and the unelected City Manager?
    • Do the citizens understand the discriminatory and potential negative impact of a majority of City Council and the Mayor residing in a concentrated area and single location of a few neighborhoods?
    • How many citizens are aware that the city charter of 1978 City Council election process had six districts and the Mayor elected at-large?
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Local Government Election Practice by Robert L. Kemp 02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Potential Citizen Engagement Methods for High Participation
    • City Charter Review Committee debate welcomed
    • Neighborhood Reaction Panel to square off after presentation
    • Open Microphone - Q & A
    • Neighborhood sign sheet to campaign for a election system that supports geographic representation to strengthen citizen voice and city council accountability
    02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • May 1986 Charter Measure on Election of City Councilors 02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability
  • Nov. 1986 Measure #53 Require 60% to Approve Charter Amendment 02/29/12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability