Well, it all makes sense unless you are Reno City Council members Jessica Sferrazza and David Aiazzi.
Last week the Reno City Council discussed Leslie’s proposal. Sferrazza seems to have her head twirling in the clouds of confusion. She claims Leslie’s proposal eliminates voters’ rights to vote for their council members and is “unbelievably ridiculous.” In fact, the bill would ask voters on the November 2012 ballot if they want ward-only elections. That doesn’t sound like an abrogation of voters’ rights to me.
Councilman Aiazzi is breathing the same air as Sferrazza. He labeled the bill as an abuse of power. He said, “It’s all about getting her (Leslie’s) friends into office.” I don’t know how he justifies that but, needless to say, Reno is opposed to the bill and that is unbelievably ridiculous. Leslie’s response was, “I would urge the City Council to let the voters decide on a November ballot in 2012. What are they so afraid of?”
No doubt they are afraid of losing collective and individual political power. A citywide election is an expensive proposition for any candidate. The “usual suspects,” such as labor unions, real estate agents, contractors, developers and the gaming industry, are always lined up with campaign contributions in hand for any candidate willing to exchange their votes for promises of favoritism. In the end, most every member of the council is supported and influenced by the same financial benefactors. Then it becomes a matter of playing good cop, bad cop politics. The new bill would eliminate the need for large contributions from special interest groups to finance a citywide campaign and add more integrity to the parochial political arena. Now wouldn’t that be a terrible thing to happen to Sferrazza, Aiazzi and local government.
Leslie pointed out her plan will provide more diversity in local government. Good! Isn’t that what we want in local government? Different points of view from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds and political philosophy should be welcomed in neighborhood elections, not suppressed in a citywide election.
Representative government is the cornerstone of our democratic republic. We elect our representatives by district. Except for city council races only voters within the candidate’s district choose their representative. If political candidates are not in our district, we can’t vote for them.
County commissioners are elected by voters in their own district, not by voters in county-wide elections.
Candidates for the U. S. Senate or House of Representatives are elected by voters in the district they represent, not by voters living outside those boundaries. That being said, candidates for city council should not have to be elected by voters living outside the boundaries of their neighborhood, district or ward.
Representation is the key word. It is the basis of our political system. In 1750, the phrase, “No taxation without representation!” was the battle cry of the American Revolution against the British. Our new Constitution, establishing a democratic republic, guaranteed us the right to freely and democratically elect our representatives in that republic.
Because city council races are, in most cases, nonpartisan, some political pundits believe local government representation and grassroots politics don’t fit within the framework of our Constitution. I support Shelia Leslie’s efforts to change that mind-set.
Last year, Sparks City Council discussed the issue of ward-only voting to elect its members. Councilwomen Julia Ratti was the only member to support the concept, although the Council officially took a neutral position on the issue. Ratti said she believes electing representatives from within their ward represents the real “foundation of democracy.” Who can argue with that?
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at email@example.com. His website is www.thefarsidechronicles.com.