Warding off unfairness?
October 3, 2008 · Updated 12:46 AM
I have been following with interest the discussion about increasing the number of council members and wards. It's too important a subject to pass up and one that is going to face both North Bend and Snoqualmie in the near future.
Let's look at the last election as a measuring stick for determining if wards are the right direction in which to proceed. The whole purpose of wards is to make voting for council members equitable by area. In larger cities it makes sense, but does it make sense in cities that have historically had trouble getting enough people to run? I'm not sure having wards is going to make an election in either North Bend or Snoqualmie more equitable.
Now, let's look at quality of candidates. The sole factor that should determine how a person is elected is the quality of his or her beliefs and the perceptions of those voting. As voters we want their biases, their ideals, their ability to reason and their love of the community to all be factors when we vote them into office. So, the best three candidates for election happen to be living as neighbors in one neighborhood. The ward system would have the three running against one another. The potential is there that the best three candidates may not get elected.
We cannot use examples such as North Bend. Heck, the only people who would run came from one neighborhood. A ward would not have prevented that situation. Is there so much concern that Snoqualmie Ridge will overtake the council and prevent the historic area of Snoqualmie from having its feelings known? Has an example of this logic shown itself? Was the last election so bad, or did we get three hard-working, community-oriented candidates elected, with votes coming from both historic and new residents?
Few cities in the country the size of Snoqualmie or North Bend have wards, let alone in the state. I am for having the best candidate elected, regardless of where he or she lives, and feel a candidate from a historic area of the community has just as much of a chance to win as someone from a newer neighborhood.
The key isn't to segregate voting into smaller areas, it's to get better and greater numbers of candidates to run.