No place for partisanship

District elections would help take national politics out of local campaigns

Don’t think Chico’s City Council elections are partisan? Then how do you explain the slates that have developed?

On the one side, the local Democratic Party has endorsed four candidates—the three progressive incumbents and a former liberal mayor. And on the other side, the local Republican Party has endorsed Chico’s politically ambitious vice mayor and three other conservative candidates.

All this for the “nonpartisan” seven-member governing body of the largest municipality in Butte County.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned vice mayor, Sean Morgan, has raised over $50,000 in his bid for re-election. It’s an obscene amount of money for a local campaign, made even more so when you think about how $50,000 could be spent elsewhere in the community by some of our service providers. And that’s not including the funds raised by the 10 others vying for a seat at the dais.

So far, by our count, candidates for Chico City Council have raised more than $150,000. Pretty unbelievable.

We hate to sound like a broken record here, since we opined on this subject a few months ago, but CN&R believes that this level of fundraising is further proof that the citizenry would benefit from district elections. That is, the city should comprise seven districts, each with its own council seat (much like the Board of Supervisors). Residents within the boundaries of each one would choose their own representative.

District elections would do a number of things, including bringing down the cost of running for a seat. That’s because candidates could focus solely on the district they wish to represent. As it stands, the kind of money it takes to win a seat makes it nearly impossible for moderate candidates to compete. As we’re seeing with this election, just as we have in the past, those with ties to the major parties have an unfair advantage.

Local elections are no place for partisanship. It’s time to do something about it.