Let’s agree the recently enacted law by the General Assembly that changes the way Wake County Commissioners are elected was purely political. The change, which divided Wake County into seven distinct districts where citizens can vote for only one district representative to the Commission along with two half-county districts where residents get to chose one that covers where residents live, comes after a sweep last fall by Democratic candidates who ousted the Republican majority.
The result of the election was retribution by Republicans controlling the General Assembly who were able to pass a local elections bill that became law without the Governor’s signature. Gov. Pat McCrory chimed in before the law was passed saying the GA should stay out of local politics, but the legislation was passed into law. The bill’s chief sponsors are also citizens of Wake County with concerns on the governance thereof especially with the Democratic take-over last fall.
In making the change, the law pretty-much mirrors how governing boards of Wake County’s largest two municipalities are elected. In Raleigh, there are five districts in which residents of those districts can vote only for a representative of that district and not candidates of the other four. There are also three at-large elections, one for Mayor and two for other council seats. All Raleigh residents can vote in those three elections.
In Cary, there are seven members of the Town Council with four district representatives chosen only by voters in each district along with a town-wide mayor and two at-large representatives. Throughout the remainder of Wake County, it appears all other municipalities elect their governing boards with all residents voting for representation from all districts, the way the Wake County Commission was elected before the new law. In smaller cities and towns this may be preferable but in larger towns and counties, the district method is sound law, allowing for more equal representation throughout the County.
The change in the law also puts the election to the Wake County Commission in lock-step with the election of the Wake County Board of Education not to mention with the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate where we only vote for representation from our district and not every seat throughout the State. It’s the same for the US House of Representatives; we can only for vote for a candidate in our congressional district, not all across the state. The US Senate is elected by each state and not all the states, as is the Presidency of the United States through the Electoral College.
While the Democratic representatives to the Commission may not like the change, some will project a positive spin and work toward re-election; others will complain instead of moving ahead. On the positive side, Matt Calabria who was elected last fall thinks he can win when his term comes up in 2018. That’s positive thinking which will get him some votes he otherwise would not get. He’ll campaign on his merits, trying to attract his detractors, not complain about political antics.
On the other hand, John Burns, also elected for the first time last fall, is bitter about the new law. In an email he about the new law and the General Assembly as a whole, Burns wrote: This is legislative whining combined with too much power. And, just the other day, to The News & Observer, he said: I’m really disappointed that this is what I end up spending my time doing, rather than answering phone calls for constituents. So, does that mean he'll spend his time complaining, being a whiner instead of doing his job? Sounds like it. Currently, Burns represents one district but because he was elected county-wide his constituents include everyone in the county. Hopefully he's talking to all of them. Under the new law, he’ll answer to fewer, a smaller electorate, if he gets re-elected, but with his negative attitude, that’s doubtful. The Board doesn't need a whiner.
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fabular (adjective) [fab-yuh-ler]: of or pertaining to a story, novel, or the like written in the form of a fable