Let me introduce you to Mr. Gerry Mander
. His job is to make certain that voting districts remain politically uncompetitive.
Have you ever wondered why so many Brevard County state legislators ran for office as unopposed incumbents in 2006?
They can thank Gerry for making that happen.
Florida gained two congressional districts --the 24th and 25th--after the 2000 census. With a little help from his friend Gerry, then-Speaker Tom Feeney-with the control of the state legislature and the Governorship all in the hands of one political party--the Republican party--Florida was easy for Gerry Mander back in 2001.
In theory, redistricting updates district lines to reflect shifts in population to guarantee the equality of your vote.
Let's use the creation of the 24th Congressional district--Mr. Feeney's district--as an example of what happens when too many Hatfields run Appalachia. The Republican majority drew lines to dip and weave through the friendly and unfriendly areas of Brevard, Orange, Seminole and Brevard counties, creating
a district of the then 156,292 registered Republicans compared to 126,976 Democrats.
Gerry helps Tom get a lock on his district. Once elected, incumbents
like Feeney--are virtually protected from outside competitors. In many cases--as witnessed here locally--incumbents ran unopposed because the McCoys can't run a competitive campaign against a Hatfield in a territory controlled by--you got it...the Hatfields.
Gerry helps out unopposed incumbents because they don't need your vote anymore to retain office. As a result, elected officials become less accountable to their constituents and more allegiant to their party, who in turn provides a hand up the political ladder.
Without fear of being held accountable for their lack of productivity, state legislators don't sweat the bad times of property tax reform and insurance crisis too badly. They know Gerry's got their back--at least, until term limited out. The fun starts all over again with Gerry leading the game of Political Musical Chairs , almost guaranteeing the faces will simply swap political seats in Hatfield county.
Which is why we should kick Gerry to the curb.
to move the responsibility of redistricting from politicians and into the hands of an independent redistricting commission
have not fared well in Florida, the most recent smacked down by the Florida Supreme
Court for violation of the rule that only one issue be raised in an initiative question
Never say die. As reported by the St. Pete Times
, Floridians for Fair Elections have renewed
their initiative and filed four proposed constitutional amendments with the state Division of Elections that, taken together, would ask voters to transfer redistricting authority to a 15-member citizen commission and set apolitical guidelines for district boundaries.
Feet are on the street this summer to gather the necessary 611,009 signatures in time for four proposed constitutional amendments to appear on the 2008 ballot. Districts are redrawn in 2012.
Incumbency should not be a monarchy--for any political party.
Gerry, it's time for you to head on out of Appalachia.
Labels: 2008, Floridians for Fair Elections, gerry mandering, independent redistricting commission, Tom Feeney