Here is a great response to Mr. Owen’s piece by former 3rd Ward candidate Ron Kuhnel (re-published with permission).
Your argument against the Measure P “true ward” ballot measure conveniently (for you at least) distorts the real picture through the use of hyperbole and leaves out some very important arguments in favor of the measure.
First the hyperbole.
I am sure Larry Glass (or any other council person) would never have voted to close the zoo and convert it into a homeless encampment as you suggest and whether or not a person was elected by ward or city-wide would not incline them to act in such a manner. You are making an assertion that once elected by ward a councilperson would be so tied to the interests of their ward they would not take the interests of whole city into consideration. That may be your opinion, but you have provided no facts or examples to back this up other than this silly make-believe scenario. I believe otherwise, and your example insults the integrity of anyone would would run for that office. Had you been elected to city council, I assume you would hot have behaved that way so why would you suggest others would do otherwise?
You left out two very important arguments in favor of a “true” ward system. Time and money.
The time issues relates to the fact you only have about 90 days to campaign for office. Anyone who has actually run for this office (as I have twice) knows how difficult it is physically to cover the entire city and knock on every door. Even someone who is retired, as I was, found it nearly impossible to cover all dwellings. An employed person could never accomplish this without taking a leave from their job. Having to campaign only in your own ward would make this personal contact feasible without having to resort to expensive mailings and TV/radio/newspaper advertisements.
That of course leads to the issue of money. Because of the difficulty of campaigning citywide, candidates are forced to raise substantial sums of money to be competitive. While there are exceptions, this remains generally true. As a result money buys elections, and this is why a lot of the objections to a “true” ward system is coming from moneyed interests.
Therefore a move to a “true” ward system provides some real advantages. Will more people step forward and run for office under such a system? Highly likely. Will it make campaigned easier? Almost for sure. Will it reduce the importance of money in an election? No doubt about it. Seems pretty advantageous and straight-forward to me. I am going to encourage everyone I know to vote for Measure P.