County board election a sham
Elected officials like to call what they do public service: Far too often, it's self-service.
The Yes! for Independent Maps movement is aimed at passing a state constitutional amendment that would strip legislative redistricting power from the politicians and authorize appointment of a nonpartisan commission to draw politically competitive maps.
What does that mean? It means putting an end to gerrymandering, the artful drawing of legislative boundary lines aimed at producing a predetermined result. It means creating competitive state House and Senate districts where either a Democrat or a Republican can win.
The theory is that the more competition there is, the better for voters.
That's not the way it's done now in Illinois. The result is that a vast majority of legislative races feature candidates who run unopposed or only with token opposition.
Voters who have a hard time understanding how pervasive and how damaging that problem is statewide need only to look at the Champaign County Board.
Gerrymandering by Democrats has essentially rendered the November 2014 county board election moot. Democratic and Republican candidates have filed to run in only two of the 11 districts.
In Champaign's District 6, Republican Dan Jackson filed to take on the winner of the Democratic primary contest between Democratic incumbent Pattsi Petrie and challenger Tony Fabri.
In Champaign's District 7, Republican Tom Grey will face the winner of the contest between incumbent Democrat Al Kurtz and challenger C. Pius Weibel.
There is only one Democrat running in rural Districts 1-5. In city Districts 8, 9, 10 and 11, only Democrats are running. Interestingly, there is a primary fight among Democrats in four of the six districts they control.
Political partisans may like maps drawn to give one party an advantage. But it's a glaring disservice to the voters who pay the bill for county government.
The travesty that is the 2014 board election could have been different. There was a bipartisan effort to draw a competitive map. But the process was hijacked by proponents of a map favoring Democrats that was submitted by the local NAACP.
The map was drawn to give Democrats a board majority on the 22-member board (two members each from 11 districts). Districts 1-5 were drawn to elect Republicans so that District 6-11 would elect Democrats.
The fact most voters don't pay much attention to the fast ones elected officials pull on them makes this kind of manipulation no less tolerable.
The same people who profess to serve the public interest intentionally undermine the public's interest in competitive elections. It's a perversion of the process, and voters must put it to an end.
The Yes! for Independent Maps effort is a good place to start. Proponents are trying to attract enough petition signatures to get the issue on the November 2014 ballot. Voters who want a choice in whom they elect to office need to sign as soon as possible.