The geopolitics of 2012 gresham oregon


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The geopolitics of 2012 gresham oregon

  1. 1. The Geopolitics of 2012 Gresham Oregon Based on the Testimony Before Gresham City Council February 7, 2012
  2. 2. Gresham Citizen Ballot Initiative  A newly formed coalition of citizens is 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 date of November 2012 General Election for citizen approval of Gresham Ballot Measure  This citizen initiative is seeking the support of a broad coalition of community business and civic organizations and look forward to Gresham City Council joining this effort2 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  3. 3. Which Neighborhood Has A Voting Majority?3 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  4. 4. What does this Map Indicate About Elections in Gresham?  Large parts of Gresham are not represented or are grossly underrepresented  This moves the levers of democracy in favor of a few closely connected neighborhoods with a majority vote of city council residing in a single neighborhood  Recent election history exposes the extent of representation disparities  Is this a new revelation?4 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  5. 5. Our City Charter Promotes Citizen Involvement in City Governance  By a vote of 70%+ in 1998, Gresham citizens passed a City Charter Measure No. 26-86 which directs the Mayor and City Manager to report annually to City Council progress gained in citizen involvement in city governance  Why aren’t single voter districts being seriously considered by the City Council as an important method of citizen engagement and involvement?  Do exclusive at-large voting districts have the opposite impact on citizen engagement and involvement in city governance?  Are exclusive at-large voting districts actually dampening citizen voice and city council accountability?5 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  6. 6. Consequences of Gresham Voting System  Does the absence of Single Voting Districts create serious representation consequences?  Are recent low voter turnout and uncontested City Council and Mayoral races a result of years of exclusive at-large elections?  Is this issue a major root cause of increasing voter apathy and non-involvement?  Is it a fact that 80% of the city is not geographically represented?  Does this open the door to excessive special interest influence?6 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  7. 7. Questions in Search of Answers  Have we always had exclusive voting at-large?  Is it true that a minority of 40% of those voting can block a Charter Amendment?  Are these examples from our election history of reducing citizen controls on government?  Is there a cost to the city when citizens feel their voice and vote has been disenfranchised?  What options are opened to the City Council and/or the citizen community to correct this situation?7 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  8. 8. The Dangers of Non-Geographic Representation  Does current exclusive at-large voting result in high cost election campaigning and low voter turnout?  Is there a lack of representation and could that be the cause of City Council members being less responsive to ordinary citizens and more responsive to special interests who provided their critical campaign funding?  Does the high cost of running for public office place engaged citizens out of reach of funding and necessary resources to run a successful campaign?  The cost of having to campaign in a city-wide at-large election is similar to a candidate running for mayor in this council-manager form of government. Does the ordinary citizen find this reasonable and affordable and does this clearly advantage those with wealth and opens the door to excessive influence of special interest support?8 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  9. 9. Who Are The Disenfranchised?  Does this system lead 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 investments and services?  Again, is there a cost to the city when large segments of the community feel disenfranchised because their vote and voice seems less meaningful?  Can you think of any examples of neighborhoods being deprived of essential infrastructure investments and services?9 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  10. 10. Would Voting Districts Strengthen Neighborhoods?  Has the exclusive at-large election process reduced the influence of single neighborhoods and contributed to the reoccurring problem of too many neighborhood associations being in an “inactive status?”  Had Southwest, Centennial, and Hollybrook Neighborhood Associations been part of single voter district would the original 2004 City Council approval for a 240,000 square foot Superstore at 181st Street have happened?  Can you think of other similar neighborhood examples?10 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  11. 11. Citizen Voice and Council Accountability  The exclusive at-large election system means that all 105,000+ of us are represented by every member of the city council  This current exclusive 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 citizen11 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  12. 12. The Geopolitics of Political Power  Has the current electoral system changed significantly the geographic representation and the balance of power between the Mayor, City Councilors and the City Manager?  Do citizens understand the potential discriminatory and negative impact of a majority of City Council and the Mayor residing in a concentrated area and single neighborhood and/or few neighborhoods?  How many citizens are aware that the city charter of 1978 election process had six districts and the Mayor elected at-large. As hard as this may be to believe too many still think we are still electing from districts.12 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  13. 13. Local Government Election Practice by Robert L. Kemp13 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  14. 14. Should We Wait for Citizen Option of Voters Rights Act Litigation?  Discrimination today is more subtle than the visible methods used in1965. However the effects and results of “exclusive” at-large districts are the same. Some politicians to limit the power of the single voter district representation after the implementation of the voter rights act replaced geographic districts with exclusive at-large districts.  Do we want the Civil Rights Division and its host of attorneys investigating citizen complaints on Gresham’s election system?  Do we in Gresham prefer to eliminate “exclusive” at-large voting districts and replace them with a “mixed form” of election system of single voter districts and at-large districts with single voting districts being in the majority?  Could a city with our population use nine districts, six single voter districts and three at-large districts, with the mayor position being one of the at-large districts?14 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12
  15. 15. Citizen Engagement for High Involvement  Attendance at City Council Meetings to Ask the City Council and Mayor to Place This Citizen Initiative on the 2012 General Election Ballot for Approval  Participate in City Council Citizen Individual (three minute) Testimony in Support City Charter Ballot Amendment  Recruit 3-5 members of your neighborhood association to join this ballot measure campaign  Contact:  Dick Strathern at  Mads Ledet at ledet.mads@gmail.com15 Citizen Voice and City Council Accountability 03/09/12