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The Lee County School Board Referendum Ruse

By Staff | Oct 29, 2014

To the editor:

Voters take note that this November 4th you are being asked to vote Yes or No on the last ballot question to change our current At-Large voting election system where every voter has the opportunity to vote for five Lee County School Board Members. The proposed referendum ruse, (a plan or trick designed for hiding its true intentions) calls for eliminating our current At-Large voting election system and replacing it with a “hybrid” model that consists of five Single-Member districts and two At-Large seats.

Beware Lee County Voters of the implication of the “hybrid” model will result in Lee County Voters losing their right to vote for all five members of the Lee County School Board. If the referendum passes it will cause Lee County Voters to only have the right to vote for one single member district school board candidate and two at large school board candidates. Therefore, the Lee County Voter’s election voting power will be reduced from five to three candidates.

The At-Large election system for our School Board Members makes each board member accountable and responsible to all voters. The Lee County School Board currently is required to govern for the whole district’s benefit, not just for a “single member” district that will become fractionalized and marginalized due to the so called 5 single member district plus 2 at-large “hybrid” scheme.

This seven member “hybrid” system will cost taxpayers more. The taxpayer will have to pay for the salaries of two additional elected School Board Members. A Lee County School Board Member receives $40,000.00 in annual salary plus benefits and retirement.

The Lee County Taxpayer will also be responsible for having to pay for the additional costs i.e.salaries, benefits and retirement to hire and pay for more support staff to assist the two additional board members with their work load.

In 1991, a study was published in the Fordham Urban Law Journal, that explains “the problems inherent in districting a multiracial city and the limitations of single member districts as a method of minority empowerment” in New York City’s Boroughs.

There is no evidence to date that proves that the proposed “hybrid” model results in greater representation for minorities and women. In 2008, Scholars from Princeton University, Jessica Trounstine and Melody E. Valdini of Portland State University reported in a Study on the Effects of Single Member Districts Versus At-Large Districts on City Council Diversity that other Scholars studies “….have found mixed results in increasing descriptive representation involving minorities and women.

Also, there is no evidence to support that 5 Single-Member and 2 At-Large “hybrid” elections plan governing local government units operate in a more efficient, effective and ethical manner.

So, remember to Vote No on the School Board sponsored referendum ruse that advocates less voting power for Lee County Voters, bigger government and higher costs.

Steve Maxwell,

Ed.D. Sanibel, Florida