There were two letters to the editor in the February 2 Orange County Register opposing single-member council districts, written in response to Martin Wisckol’s article on the subject, and I think they are worth sharing because I suspect they are much more indicative of the average voter’s opinion than the proponents purporting to speak “for the people.”
The first is from a Robert Schaefer of Anaheim:
I, for one, was disturbed by the piece detailing the emergence of ethnic voting in Anaheim [“Threat of legal action prompts election changes,” Jan. 26].
As a citizen and resident of Anaheim, I simply do not care if there are no Latinos serving on the City Council. Of course, neither would I care if all of the City Council Members were Latino.
What I do care about is electing the most qualified individuals on the ballot with the hope that they will govern our city in a manner that treats everyone equally and that they do so in a fiscally responsible way. Good governance should be our collective and only goal.
It is often stated in various media that Anaheim is (somewhere) around 46 percent Latino and, accordingly, that it is to be lamented that there are no Latinos on the City Council. So what?
Even for those who find the siren song of ethnic proportionality attractive, the large Latino population could simply achieve a proportionality goal if they simply got out and voted with proportionality in mind. The fact that they haven’t done so would seem to provide evidence that there is no compelling case to change the way the people of Anaheim have voted for many, many years. We live in a very successful city and changing the way we are governed should be done with great caution.
Catering to a small group of activists in any ethnic group – under the banner of either diversity or proportionality – will only serve to divide and drive wedges between the various areas of our great city and to pit separately represented areas against one another. There is a new verb in our language that describes such action and that verb is “to Balkanize” – referring to the constant strife that has occurred in the Balkans ever since each ethnic group in the former Yugoslavia got its own national (and ethnically “pure”) status.
E Pluribus Unum. Let’s keep it that way.
The second letter is from a Mary Litwinski of Dana Point:
It is the role of city council members and city government to provide police and fire protection, pave and maintain streets, provide water and sewer service, collect garbage, operate parks and operate libraries for their entire city.
I didn’t realize the color of a person’s skin or ethnic heritage had a bearing on their ability to perform such tasks. The soft bigotry of low expectations coupled with overreaching legal action to elect otherwise unelectable candidates establishes a very bad precedent.
What next? Labeling the chairs at City Hall by ethnicity to make sure the seats are filled with the right color occupant?
As multicultural diversity is increasingly given precedence over the American principles of individual liberty, God-given rights and rule of law, our motto of “E Pluribus Unum” becomes increasingly less relevant.
This may be a blue state, but most California voters remain hostile to the notion that representative government should be skewed to advantage some ethnicity and not others. They idea that all Americans are and ought to be equal before the law may strike left-leaning minds as antiquated when it comes to governance, but most Americans still take it seriously. Whenever given the opportunity eliminate government practices that treat citizens differently due to their race or ethnicity, California voters have opted to do so.
While some single-member district proponents stake their arguments on the dubious grounds that they are more representative or democratic, what is actually fueling the spread of single-member districts is the idea that elected bodies should reflect the racial and ethnic make-up of the electorate, rather than the political and policy preferences of the voters.