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County Charter Review Commission votes to eliminate single-member district proposal from further consideration

BY JENNIFER CABRERA

In spite of the fact that almost 25% of the suggestions made to the Alachua County Charter Review Commission proposed some form of single-member districts, and in spite of the fact that over 80% of the citizens who showed up at tonight’s meeting to comment were in favor of single-member districts, the commission voted to eliminate the proposal from further consideration.

Alachua County’s commission is currently elected at-large; there are 5 districts, and commissioners must live in their district, but everyone in the county votes for the commissioners.

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Commission Member Joe Little initially made the motion to move the proposal forward, but Kristen Young immediately substituted a motion to do the opposite. After some discussion, the commission decided to vote on the motion to eliminate the proposal from consideration, rather than the original motion.

Several people, including members of the Charter Review Commission, argued that single-member districts are a form of voter suppression; the argument is that it is better to vote for five commissioners (and have five commissioners accountable to you) than to just vote for one.

A large group of people showed up to argue for single-member districts, pointing out that city commissioners are a mix of single-district and at-large, that both our state and federal governments have single-member districts, and that not bringing this to the voters was itself voter suppression, especially given the amount of public interest in the topic.

Only two members of the commission, Eric Drummond, and Kali Blount, voted to move the proposal forward. Drummond said, “People care about this.” He pointed out that far more people showed up for this issue than any past meeting of the commission. Drummond said that if the proposal was removed from consideration, he would leave because the other proposals were unimportant. After the break, his seat was empty.

Term limits were also removed from consideration.

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