Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 At-Large City Council elections in Detroit? Previous Next
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Rampartstreetnorth
Member
Username: Rampartstreetnorth

Post Number: 7
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 7:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

In another thread (about the DPD), the question of Detroit's use of at-large elections to choose its City Council has been raised.

Among other drawbacks (such as lack of accountability to neighborhoods) one consequence of at-large elections--rather than election of council members from districts--is that minority voting power within a city is minimized, regardless of who that minority may be.

That's why Southern cities whose elections are covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are required by the Department of Justice to elect their city councils from single member districts rather than at large.

So...for how long has Detroit used at-large elections of city council members, and does anyone know if this method has been challenged and why it is still used?

http://www.crf-usa.org/brown50 th/race_representation.htm
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Mikem
Member
Username: Mikem

Post Number: 3153
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 7:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Since 1918. It has been challenged and keeps getting voted down.
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Rampartstreetnorth
Member
Username: Rampartstreetnorth

Post Number: 8
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 8:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mikem--voted down by whom? Do you mean in a referendum, or by the Council itself?
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Mikem
Member
Username: Mikem

Post Number: 3154
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 8:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the citizens voted it down sometime in the 1970s, and attempts to get it on the ballot recently have fallen short. Can't remember if it made it to another vote since then.

The topic comes up every year - try doing a search of "ward" with the forum search function - you might find better information from previous members who knew more about the system but no longer post here.
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Ordinary
Member
Username: Ordinary

Post Number: 152
Registered: 06-2006
Posted on Monday, March 05, 2007 - 8:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would think it would make the city more manageable to have council elected from districts.
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Dougw
Member
Username: Dougw

Post Number: 1598
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 12:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It hasn't made it up for a vote in a long time, probably since the 70's as Mikem says.

I do think that if a well-worded proposal for a district-based system (including a couple of at-large seats) made it on the ballot today, it would pass.

It is important to have at least 1 or 2 at-large councilmembers as a sort of backup plan if your local district councilmember is unresponsive. I'd say a mix of 7 by-district members and 2 at-large members would be ideal.

Detroit is very much the exception to most U.S. cities with its all at-large system, and there's no sign that it has been a smashing success. Anything to improve local accountability and foster a more district/neighborhood focus would be a good thing.
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Vas
Member
Username: Vas

Post Number: 680
Registered: 01-2004
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 1:39 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes. This is something that really needs to be changed. Its linked to the Chicago political corruption days of the early 20th century, but I'm not sure.

It makes no sense to have council members having no allegiance to a certain part of the city.
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Imhere
Member
Username: Imhere

Post Number: 10
Registered: 02-2007
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 1:51 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the 7 X 2 idea of DougW is a really good idea. My concern with this is with the way the Council currently does business (What's in it for me attitude). I think even less would get done, as then the Council members could grandstand on a larger stage and point how they (and their district) are getting shortchanged.

That could really hamper anything constructive from happening in the city.
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Danindc
Member
Username: Danindc

Post Number: 2199
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - 2:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

^DC uses a hybrid system: 1 member from each of 8 wards, 4 at-large members, and a Chair elected citywide.

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