Eureka, CA ≈ Ferguson, MO … Part 1.

Eureka’s Voting System 101

For those not familiar “≈” = approximately equal.

How we are not equal:  race demographics and an equivalent racially charge history.  (btw, we have our own to understand and live with)

How we are eerily similar: an institutional and often unconstitutional voting system that allowing for the best chances that those with views outside the established status quo will find it more difficult to win elections.

There is a big difference between Eureka and Ferguson based on our geography and history and I don’t want to minimize the struggle and uphill battle that Ferguson’s African American population faces.  However, as commenter Not A Native pointed out shortly after Michael Brown’s killing by a police officer, the power structures that allow for African Americans in Ferguson to be under represented and for the disenfranchised to be under-represented in Eureka are similar.  At large voting coupled with an election timing that insures most elections take place during the least popular elections.

Here is what is happening…

a)  5 Eureka Wards:

Eureka voting 101.  Eureka has a City Council with 5 Council Members and a Mayor.  I’m not an expert (read I know nothing) on the power of Eurka’s Major, but I understand it is limit.  Much or most of the direction for policy is held by the Council majority.

Each of the 5 Council Members must live in their respective Ward (see below).  In reality, let’s be honest, when considering candidates both sides are guilty of deciding the ends of electing someone justify the means of making sure a candidate is a long-term resident and/or actual representative of this or that Ward.

b)  From the voter’s perspective

A Eureka resident who lives in any of the 5 Wards will get to vote for all 5 city councilmembers and the mayor.  Here is how this breaks down by year.

i)  November 2014 +4 years (National Mid-terms).  Every forth year of the mid-term elections an Eureka resident will be able to vote for 3 city councilmembers (wards 1, 3 and 5) and the mayor.  Not a bad deal, assuming of course we can find candidates.

ii)  November 2016 +4 years (National Presidential Elections.  Every forth year including 2016 onwards Eureka residents get to vote for 2 city councilmembers (wards 2 and 4).  In 2016 this will be Linda Atkin’s and Melinda Ciarabellini’s seats.

…more later…


… in the mean time enjoy today’s NYT opinion piece on Ferguson’s at large system…


Figure One:  Eureka’s Ward Map

Eureka's Ward Map


Resources:


Questions and Answers:

Question (6:10 am):  Can WordPress titles and LoCO’s Elsewhere links handle unusual symbols?

Answer:  (6:20 am):  WordPress can.  (6:21 am)  LoCO can!  Huzzah for maths!

Question:  (1/5/15)  How long will it take for Eureka City to update their map?

Answer:

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4 thoughts on “Eureka, CA ≈ Ferguson, MO … Part 1.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW THE WARD SYSTEM DEVELOPED AND WHAT THE PORPOSE OF IT IS, IF THE VOTE FOR THE WARD REPRESENTATIVE IS NOT RESTRICTED TO THE WARD IN QUESTION.

    1. MOLA42 says:

      Anonymous 7:08:

      I COULD ANSWER YOUR QUESTION BUT I WOULD GET LARYNGITIS…

      Ah, that’s better.

      The Ward system is based on the same idea that Federal House of Representative and State Legislator seats are based on… representation focused on the needs of particular subgroups of the population.

      For instance… the needs of First Ward (business corridor, low rent housing, homeless) would be different from the Fourth Ward (upper-end residential). That’s the idea anyway.

      And at various times in Eureka’s history the Wards voted only on their own representatives… and at various times as there is now… the City at large votes for all the seats.

      It’s like if there were a similar system in California… where we got to vote for who represents LA (and everywhere else) and LA (and everywhere else) got to vote for who represents us. Somehow that doesn’t sound right.

      Smaller cities… like Fortuna for example… or cities with more homogeneous populations dispense with the Ward System… there’s no point for having Wards for those situations.

      Eureka, presently… chooses hypocrisy over honest representation.

      *****

      And a question for LJ (or whomever knows)… isn’t Linda Atkins termed out at the next election?

      1. YES MOLA , SHE IS. THANK YOU FOR YOUR Ehhhm response (and question). I know more stuff now.

        Sorry anon- all caps is one of the intertubes etiquette breakers, but I do really appreciate the question and it’s part of what I wanted to talk about in upcoming parts.

        Here is a preview, this is not intuitive and I read this earlier, perhaps from the same source perhaps not…

        “We’re seeing easily the biggest shift” since the Progressives ushered in at-large elections nearly a century ago, said Douglas Johnson, president of the research firm National Demographics Corp. and a fellow at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College.

        From

        http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-local-elections-20130915-story.html

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Mola. After reading your history, I must say that changing back and forth from actual ward representation to a general vote strikes me as completely arbitrary and one can’t help but suspect that it’s being done for reasons which are not wholesome or apparent.

    PS I apologize for my typos. I blame my failing eyesight.

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