I’ve been getting press releases from a Democrat candidate for the 18th Congressional District, Matthew Woodmancy. They invariably include a disclaimer that goes like this:
Matthew Woodmancy has a criminal record for a foolish act and is paying his fines and has moved on with his life. He is ready to serve, ready to [...]
Back in November 1987, the last time the City Council’s election process was changed, then-Journal Star reporter Paul Gordon wrote a very interesting story on the history of the process.
I’ve reprinted the complete article below, but here’s the summary, with some additional information to bring us up to 2011:
||Governed under township system, with a board of trustees and a board president
||Mayor and, initially, eight aldermen elected from four wards, with elections held annually. The council grew with the city, and by 1951, there were 11 wards and 22 aldermen.
||Council-manager form of government adopted; one mayor and all council members elected at-large.
||In a special election, voters decide to reestablish the ward system. Ten wards are established with one councilman elected from each; terms are not staggered. There are no at-large seats.
||Under new state legislation, a binding referendum was held that established five districts and three at-large seats (total of 8 council members, plus the mayor), with staggered terms.
||As a result of the 1987 Voting Rights lawsuit settlement, our current system was established with five district councilmen and five at-large councilmen elected via cumulative voting. The first at-large election under the new system was held in 1991.
Now in 2011, there is talk of doing away with the current system and returning to possibly ten districts and no at-large councilmen, which would be essentially what we had in the 1960s. It’s also the resolution originally sought in the voting rights case of 1987.
In 1987, a lawsuit (Joyce Banks, et al. v City of Peoria, case number 87-2371) was filed against the City of Peoria, District 150 Board of Education, and the Peoria Park District, alleging that the method of electing at-large members “prevented minorities from getting elected to the boards because the number of white voters outnumbered minorities.” The suit originally sought to abolish at-large voting completely from all three boards. But in a settlement before the case went to trial, plaintiffs agreed to eliminate at-large voting from the school district and park boards, and develop a different solution for the City Council: a total of five at-large members (an increase from three) plus the implementation of a cumulative voting system.
Why? According to a Nov. 1, 1987, Journal Star article, one of the plaintiffs, Joyce Banks, stated “their original demand for across-the-board district voting was dropped because blacks reasonably could be assured of one seat on a district-only council…. With the agreed-upon changeover to cumulative voting for at-large seats on the City Council, Banks said a well-organized black community could capture two or three seats on what would become a 10-member council.”
That’s more or less how it has worked out. Today, there are two black members on the council: first-district councilman Clyde Gulley and at-large councilman Eric Turner. If the council were to change back to a ten-district system, it’s hard to say how minority representation would change. Minority population has increased over the past 24 years, so presumably more than one district could be made up of a majority of minority voters. Plus, it’s not as if white people only vote for white people or black people only vote for black people. For instance, Turner lives in the fifth district of the City, which is predominantly white, and he received a large number of votes from that area in the last at-large election. There’s no reason he couldn’t continue to win a seat in that area of town even under a district-only process.
It is interesting that changing to a ten-district council would be a trip back to the future, so to speak. One wonders if, in another ten or twenty years, there will be yet another group vying for a return to the good old days of cumulative voting, or perhaps a strong-mayor form of government. It seems we’re never satisfied with whatever process is currently in place.
Continue reading Rewind: History of City Council election process
You may recall that the State passed HB3785, which says political signs can be displayed on residential property at any time. The law takes effect January 1, 2011, but the City of Peoria will be bringing it sign ordinance into compliance this coming Tuesday. The text amendment leaves intact size restrictions for all political [...]
From the Journal Star:
A crowd estimated at more than 500 gathered outside the Peoria County Courthouse during the noon hour Wednesday to protest what they believe to be out-of-control government spending during a tax day “TEA (taxed enough already) party,” designed to echo the rebellion of the Boston Tea Party.
I don’t disagree [...]
I just received this e-mail from the vice-chairman of the Heart of Peoria Commission, Beth Akeson:
I have gathered the required signatures and completed the necessary paperwork to run for Peoria’s third district council seat.
These documents will be turned in tomorrow, December 15, 2008. I look forward to a positive campaign as [...]
State election law has changed, but the city council has a chance to override the changes and keep everything in Peoria status quo. Here’s the skinny:
The state legislature last year changed the requirements for when a primary election has to be held in municipal nonpartisan elections — things like mayor, councilman, clerk, etc. [...]
18th Congressional District (Republican)
Aaron Schock 55,576 71% Jim McConoughey 13,307 17% John Morris 9,108 12%
The only thing surprising about the outcome of this race is the margin of victory. Schock was expected to win with at least a plurality, but most likely a small majority of votes. Instead, he won in a [...]
Did you vote early? Is your candidate still in the race?
In Peoria County, registered voters could cast a ballot between Jan. 14 and Jan. 31 for the Feb. 5 primary. The trouble is, since Jan. 14, several candidates have dropped out. If you voted for Fred Thompson, John Edwards, or Rudy Giuliani, sorry, [...]
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I mean, the guy got a ton of votes, came in third place, and bested one of the three incumbents. What’s there to contest?
Answer: Whether state law will allow him to serve.
There’s this part of Illinois law called the “Prohibited interest in contracts” clause (50 ILCS 105/3) that [...]
Incumbent Tim Cassidy easily won reelection as president of the Park Board over sitting board member Robert Johnson. The vote wasn’t even close:
Tim Cassidy 9,200 72.46% Robert Johnson 3,496 27.54%
There wasn’t a lot of controversy surrounding Cassidy; he endeared himself to many voters by voting against the land-sharing deal with District 150 [...]