Scared into district voting


Sam Fant in court.

When I express reservations about district voting, some readers recoil as if I had produced the hood of a Grand Kleagle from a drawer and pulled it over my face.

I look at district voting vs. Stockton’s former hybrid system as I look at internal combustion vs. deisel engines. Both have advantages, both have problems.

Let’s be clear: I don’t oppose district voting. But the downside I anticipate involves districts with high percentages of immigrant and low-information voters. Dan Walters touched on the problem in his column today.

” … the residents of the “corridor of corruption” communities are often immigrants who lack sophistication, local civic organizations are weak, and involvement in local politics is scant, thus allowing crooks to easily occupy and exploit positions of power,” Walters wrote.

Stockton has an abundance of charlatans who exploit the resentments of disadvantaged voters without posessing any of the aptitudes necessary to actually redress inequities. They are, when elected, disasters.

The enfranchising upside to district voting is obvious. If minority voters believe citywide voting, or Stockton’s former hybrid system, nullifies their vote then they lose faith in the system. My point is that district voting is not without its downside: witness how District 6 Council candidate Sam Fant won the primary even when indicted on charges of voter fraud.

If you want to know why Stockton switched to district voting, look no further than this L.A. Times story. A zealous Malibu lawyer “has been suing, or threatening to sue, cities all over Southern California, demanding they change the way they elect members of their city councils in order to increase the numbers of African-American and Latino representatives.”

This crusader’s suit cost the city of Palmdale upwards of $7 million — and Palmdale lost. Stockton officials, wanting to avoid such a costly suit, bowed to the inevitable and switched to district voting. If it empowers people to get a better deal from city government, well and good. But expect more charlatans on the ballot.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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