Your View: We need a ward system in city council elections

Your View: We need a ward system in city council elections

By Brian W. Higgins, Alexandria (File photo)

To the editor:
Your November 5, 2015 editorial, “Some takeaways from the Democratic sweep,” misses the mark. The editorial theorizes that strong Democrat turnout and a stronger slate of candidates were the reasons that Republicans were unable to win a single city race this year.

The answer is much simpler than that. Citywide council districts, coupled with a large majority of Democrat voters across the city, stack the deck against candidates from other parties, year after year. It also dilutes the ability of neighborhoods to have their voice heard.

Your comment that the four defeated Republican candidates were little known outside of Old Town tells us two things: there are lots of Republicans in Old Town, and once again they have been denied a single seat on city council. While some Alexandrians might not see an issue with this disenfranchisement, it bears noting that the use of citywide council districts have been a favorite tool of racial segregationists for years to dilute minority political power, and a frequent cause of litigation under the Voting Rights Act.

It also bears noting that one-party rule benefits no one. It dulls the debate, breeds complacency and contempt for dissent in officials, not to mention anger and frustration in disenfranchised voters — all of which have been on ample display in Alexandria the last several years.

Alexandria can and should do better by its residents, its neighborhoods and their often legitimate and differing points of view. The waterfront plan, which disproportionately impacts Old Town, is a prime example. Citywide voting districts need to go.