Chairman Bock. You have aggressively promoted what you claim is your election victory right to implement the campaign ideology and policy platform you ran on. Your supporters clearly agree with you as we seen them parade up to this podium to proudly congratulate you and the majority for doing just that.
I would, of course, argue that this campaign platform push has at times been at odds with reality here in Chatham and is not in the best interests its residents. Regardless, this is your political right.
However, when it comes to the issue of reapportionment, you have abandoned at least three campaign promises: 1) drawing commissioner districts that match school board districts; 2) consideration of a seven-member board with a combination of district only and at large seats and 3) open government. These were specific campaign promises you made in writing.
Now, I suspect you would cite practical realities you are confronted with as a basis for abandoning these promises. But you have not let practical reality hinder your implementation of many other campaign promises, such as your steamrolling our environmental regulations and review processes.
As Commissioner Kost and I stated when we ran for office in 2008 and have consisted stated since, we support a fair citizen participation redistricting process that would seriously consider some combination of district-only and at large seats with seven board members. In speaking to the Chatham Conservative Voice candidate forum in April 2008, I stated my preference would be a four district only and three at large seat combination, but was open to other suggestions.
Cadle Cooper, who lost a close Republican primary contest to Mr. Bock, has told me he supports a 4-3 combination system because it would allow every voter to cast a vote for a majority of the seats. I would add that all three incumbent Democratic County Commissioner candidates in 2010 supported considering such a mixed system as part of deliberate citizen input redistricting process.
To be clear, I opposed the district-only voting proposal on the November 2006 ballot for three reasons: 1) the process was unfair and hurried; 2) the district map was unfair and gerrymandered Commissioner Patrick Barnes from seeking re-election; and 3) it converted all seat to district only elections.
I still oppose a district-only election system.
During the campaign, Mr. Bock wrote “I support the BOEs’ request to have districts match the BOC districts.” Yet, you did not involve the school board in drafting your two proposed maps. The result was that three incumbent school board members were located in the same district.
Mr. Bock also wrote “I support the idea of 5 members being elected by citizens of their districts and two being voted by all the citizens.”
Most upsetting is that you have ignored your open government campaign promise by denying a legitimate request from Commissioner Kost that we set up a citizens’ task force to review and make recommendations concerning alternative maps, increasing board size, and consideration of election system of district voting only, at large, and a combination of both. But it is not too late for you live up to these three campaign promises. Such a citizen task force could do its work in a couple of months, as the Courthouse Task Force did.
Open government means more than letting citizens comment on or watch a video of the commissioners’ discussing redistricting maps you and Commissioner Petty privately drafted. True open government includes citizen input and deliberation before decisions are made.
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