|Political Integrity|| home
DISTRICT ELECTIONS -- THE MEDIA'S ROLE
By Bob Hegamin AN OPINION February 13, 2001
My comments will be in the first person for this article.
The quotes following the · are from an editorial by Mindy Cameron, editorial page editor: Maybe it's time for district elections in Seattle politics (Seattle Times, December 31, 2000)
· " ..(I)s a general sense of voter discontent reason enough to launch electoral reform in Seattle? Probably not, but more accountability and better representation across the city are good arguments for a change."
Comment. Voters should be outraged rather than just feeling "a general sense of . discontent." Certainly, lack of accountability and poor representation are reasons for concern. But, there is also the City Council's lack of fiscal discipline, which has indebted the people by almost $650 million without voter approval, and "conned" voters into taxing themselves for projects they can't afford. The people's apparent complacency stems from a lack of information from the media.
· "Five years ago, (1995) Seattle voters rejected by a 55-to-45 percent margin a proposal to elect members of the city council by districts rather than at-large, as is the current method. . Is 2001 the year to revisit that issue?"
Comment. Yes, since this amendment to the City Charter would take five years to be fully implemented. I had concluded district elections were absolutely essential for the wellbeing of Seattle, so much so, that in 1987 Bob Willmott (Strand Helpers), David Moody (Seattle Jaycees) and I filed a charter amendment but failed in the signature drive. I again emphasized its importance when I ran for Mayor of Seattle, proposing to seek a referendum for district election of Council members. (Hegamin back for another run at mayor's office North Seattle Press, August 9, 1989)
· "It's a safe bet that more candidates, and possibly a new kind of candidate -- folks less beholden to the city's traditional power bases -- would be attracted to district elections."
Comment. It's true that district elections would encourage more candidates to seek public office, but it doesn't follow that they would be essential for a new kind of candidate to emerge, one who is not indebted to the power brokers. Many past candidates have had that quality, among others, but the media ignored their candidacy and viability at the outset of the campaign. I offer the following examples from two of my attempts for elective office, to wit:
In 1997, I ran against the only Council member seeking reelection. In the "Voters Pamphlet", I wrote: "I belong to NO special interest group nor am I seeking the endorsement of any such group." The media never once interviewed me on this or any other issue, trashing me simply by omission. Their editorial boards had no interest in the issue, either.
In 1999, I again included the same statement in the primary Voters Pamphlet", among other issues. The media news and editorials again ignored this issue and my candidacy.
Conclusion. "District elections" will first discourage those who are simply looking for notoriety, but also assure Seattleites that more than minimally qualified single-issue candidates will be elected. To substantiate this claim, in each of my many campaigns, Seattle's media had gone out of their way to provide unsolicited endorsements for just such "anointed" candidates, whose subsequent ineptness were then ignored by them. "District elections" will delegate to a smaller, specific segment of Seattle -- on behalf of the rest of the City -- the job of monitoring and holding just one member of the Council accountable, a job requirement long ignored by elected officials.
Email: email@example.com Website: http://listen.to/politicalintegrity