No suspense in fall board vote
The November elections are over for the Champaign County Board.
It's official. What was long suspected has now been confirmed — Democrats on the Champaign County Board gerrymandered the legislative map to the point that they virtually have guaranteed themselves a majority.
And it won't be just for the two years after the November election, but probably for the next 10 years.
The board is reducing its size from 27 to 22 members, going from nine three-member districts to 11 two-member districts. But given the way the district map lines were drawn — to favor the party in power — Republicans could field candidates for only 11 of the 22 seats. Democrats also nominated only a partial slate, but they're still in line to fill a majority of the seats.
What's not just disappointing, but despicable, is that in voting themselves in, Democrats cut the voters out. Now there will be only a handful of competitive races in the 11 board districts.
Republicans dominate rural districts, to the point that virtually no Democrats run there. Democrats dominate the city districts, to the point that virtually no Republicans run there.
Voter choice is virtually nonexistent. Other than in a possible primary race, voters will not have the opportunity to select a credible Democrat or a credible Republican in an election either side can win.
Needless to say, that breeds insularity on the part of board members. Why should they care what people think if they don't have to worry about re-election? It also breeds a partisan unwillingness to work with members of the other party.
A handful of members of the county board tried to put together a bipartisan commission to draw map lines without regard to political influence. But majority Democrats used their power at the last minute to shove a political map, one ostensibly drawn by the local NAACP, down the public's throat.
Afterward, they congratulated themselves on their cleverness. The insiders may think so, but fixing the November county board elections before a single vote is cast is nothing in which to take pride.