No suspense in fall board vote

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.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

Sid Saltfork wrote on June 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Oh my.......  Those Democrats played dirty.  It was nothing like the Republicans picking Tim Johnson's replacement on the ticket.  Both parties play dirty.  The voters would only get confused about choices.  It is better for them to be outraged for a week, or two; and let those behind the scenes make the difficult choices.  No wonder that some countries resist having American Democracy provided to them.  Isn't it time to move past two parties?  Maybe; a third, or fourth party would shake up the status quo?

jthartke wrote on June 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Perhaps part of the problem is that Republicans are to busy fixing their Congressional, Circuit Clerk, and CB D5 candidate selection process.  I find it sad that the NG can slam Democrats for not giving voters a choice when we are the ones putting up candidates in Districs 1 and 5, rural, supposedly "fixed districts". 

Perhaps the NG should decry a Republican party unable to find candidates to run. Also, I find it disingenuous to, again, attack Democrats for cutting voters out of the process, when Republicans are blatantly defying the will of voters with their bait and switch on primary candidates.  The games that have gone on at the congressional and Circuit Clerk level are what are "despicable", NG.

johnny wrote on June 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

You've got to hand it to them, though:  they "fixed" the race for Circuit Clerk such that they'll lose by double digits.  Pretty bad for an office they already hold.

nick wrote on June 11, 2012 at 10:06 pm

 Has there ever been a News Gazette editorial that was critical of the Republican Party? Has there ever been a News Gazette editorial that supported any action taken by local Democrats? I have never seen those editorials if they were written. I probably just missed reading the opinion pages on those many occasions when the completely objective NG editorial board published a complimentary opinion about Democrats. I'm also wondering if I just missed those editorials that were critical of local Republicans.


johnny wrote on June 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Pretty much anything ever about State's Attorney John Piland.

jwr12 wrote on June 12, 2012 at 12:06 am

"It also breeds a partisan unwillingness to work with members of the other party."

Since when has the current Republican Party shown a willingness to work with anyone who disagreed with them?  Ask the new Republican Senate candidate from Indiana, whose definition of bipartisanship is to force everyone to do what he wants.  Ask Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, who have made it perfectly clear that they have no interest in helping to govern as long as Obama's in the White House.

The fact of the matter is, the Republicans can't field candidates in districts that aren't drawn to their specifications, because they have become so extreme only true believers will vote for them.  I remember standing in Tim Johnson's office last summer, when the Republicans chose to wreck the nation's credit over a hissy fit.  I was told, by his representatives, that if the nation wanted to pay its debtors, it could always just sell its gold reserves (in a fire sale, I guess).  That's how crazy the Republican Party has become.

When the Republicans start being a sane, moderate party interested in government for and by the people, then I think they can run successfully for city council in Champaign county.

I'm aware that local Republicans feel its unjust to be slandered with the reputation of their national party.  But that's tough.  When you choose to wear the uniform, you get the reputation.