Elections can make for difficult times. People become passionate in expressing their views. An election is one of the few places where there you either win or loose. It’s hard not to take things personally. All that.
So here I am sticking my neck out on a very local election matter.
I was one of those who served on the PUSD Districting Task Force (DTF). The 9 of us were nominated and appointed by the governing bodies in Altadena, Pasadena, and Sierra Madre. We met for over 10 months, 30+ meetings that took place throughout the PUSD district, and had input from a wide variety of perspectives. We also heard from those who didn’t come to meetings – who were following them – who shared their opinions with committee members.
The process was a good one and the outcome is Measure A that will move elections from at-large to sub-district elections.
There are arguments being made that this move will lead to balkanization and intemperate name calling. But truth be told, I’ve seen both things happen under our current at-large structure. I’ve been involved long enough that I’ve seen school board members tell each other that they don’t trust them – during a board meeting. I’ve seen some shifty things happen and some very positive things happen. That is the way things go when people are involved. It can get complicated.
I’m betting that many of the folks who question the move to more local representation would not like to see their council representatives switch to an at-large structure. They like having someone represent their needs and have a bit of faith that those elected will work with others to the benefit of the whole.
When I ran for office I learned that among certain circles there is an unspoken structure that has been a part of at-large elections. Within that structure there are designated seats – at least one for African Americans and one for Latinos. Pretty baroque when there is a sole representative that is supposed to represent the voice of every third person in Pasadena. It’s truly rococo if you begin to add in the fact that a third of the registered Latino voters are Republican and two thirds are Democrat.
I like to see representation that over the long term reflects those they are serving. It really bothered me during the spell when there were not women on our school board. In a similar way, I want to see more folks on the school board who have connections and can serve as role models for our students and their parents.
Having sub-districts one thing will take place that can help that happen. Because the areas will be smaller the amount of effort, money and time it takes to reach voters will become smaller. Candidates should increase in number and the diversity within that pool of candidates should become greater.
Like a couple of other members of the DTF I had no clear sense of where or what my opinion would be regarding the change form at-large to sub-districts. What I saw over the course of several months was greater participation by folks from throughout the city, especially those whose children who are in school. There were a lot of different opinions expressed, but the common underlying point was that they wanted to have a say in who was going to represent them.
I’m hoping that the energy I saw will transfer over to GOTV efforts.
Because of all that I share, and more, I hope that you will join me in voting yes for Measure A.