County Board Size - Another View

Al Matano, a member of the Dane County Board discusses the new law for county board size adjustment here. Below are the resaons I agree with him:

Citizens will lose representation. It's simple arithmetic. Dane County's population is about 450,000. The County Board has 37 members. That means that each member represents about 12,000 citizens. Cut the number of members in half, as has been suggested, and each one would represent about 24,000 people.
As things are now, neighborhood associations and individuals can call on their local representatives the way they would call on a neighbor. If districts become large, that access will decrease. Double the number of people each member represents, and they will no longer be able to be so responsive.

Elections will become more expensive, preventing regular people
from running for office.
In this election cycle, only 10 races are contested, while 27 are uncontested. If we have half as many districts, a higher percentage will be contested, right? I don't think so. Making the mountain twice as tall won't result in more people taking on the challenge.

If each district doubles in size, campaign expenses will more than double. At present candidates largely spend their campaign money on printing and sometimes mailing campaign brochures, and their time ringing doorbells. This will not be possible if each candidate has to reach twice as many voters.
As the size of the districts increases, candidates will begin to advertise in media like radio and weekly newspapers. Campaigns will become more expensive and more distant from the voters. "Regular people" - people like some of the ones I tried to get to run in this election cycle - will not even consider running for office. Cutting the size of the Dane County Board in half will convert the body from a citizens'
legislature to a professional legislature.

The idea of cutting the size of a legislative body has a certain "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" kind of appeal, but it doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny. "Mr. Smith" would roust the corrupt legislators who have let government stagnate and are in office to serve their own interests. In reality, local governing bodies are populated by hard-working public servants who serve because they care about their community. We put in long hours deciding arcane issues because those issues matter in deciding the future of our community.

Mark Harris has his view here. Which I think is very valid.

I discussed this previously here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nearly 10% of all county board members in the United States are here in Wisconsin. Our boards should be half the size they are and we should have half the counties we have. Take a look at the state of Arizona and the # of counties and the size of their boards. Then look at there taxes. There is a reason we are the #5 taxed state in the U.S. Too much government.