Al Campbell: Call returns to change city elections
Is that an echo I hear, “uh,” read? “Bring back the primaries!”
That familiar sound of bring them back again is nothing new in High Point politics. If my memory serves me accurately, it has been alternated, or called upon to bail out the disgruntled in the past! As far back as I can remember, even when Roy Culler and Paul Clapp battled for the mayor’s seat with a true one-man-one-vote system, the one-man-one-vote system has gone through a number of changes. When that system became seriously challenged by a “non-vicinity” candidate, the in-place “one-block-one-group” gang began quiet efforts to overturn the local elective method of voting to control the memberships of “the” city’s entire elected and or appointed public representatives.
Ways to continue the sure-us system from a selected vicinity eventually emerged and High Point became one of the few cities to hold their municipal elections with the General Election, on even-numbered years instead of odd-numbered years. That General Assembly request and eventual change ushered in High Point’s rearranged voting procedure.
Rearranged voting procedure? Yes! At that time and for many years, High Point operated the at-large system which allotted eight persons on council and a mayor. That system was named, 4-4-1 and was put in place to control who was or was not elected in High Point. And all candidates were voted on by voters citywide regardless of party affiliation or residential location. With that system there were times when as many as seven of the eight council members and the mayor all came out of that “one-block-one-group” vicinity.
The big change to the then existing 4-4-1 system provided the in coming new 6-2-1 system which enabled all voters to select their own ward representative plus 2 at-large and 1 mayor. The eight council members represent one member for each of the existing six wards and 2 at-large. Now, only ward residences can vote for ward candidates along with both at-large and the mayor, the same existing system in place in High Point today.
With the results of the last city election reflecting the opposite of what a few wanted, the few dissatisfied opponents are again calling for another change – probably one they hope will give them an electoral advantage.
One exception continues to render the citizens of High Point incomplete voters when described negatively. Partisan politics is continually excluded from the complete political package which disallows voters the right of party affiliation and support — all at the behest of a few.
That era, and even prior to that era, High Point like other North Carolina incorporated towns and cities elected its political members (mayor and City Council) first with a primary, a runoff if needed and finally the election in November.
With editorial corrections, the above stands as a generalization of why the sudden cry for an elective change which appears and sounds much like a mockery influenced by a personal vendetta. If inadequate now why not so in the past?
The voters of this and other American cities should have the right to select their own representative! How well can citizens of other countries determine America’s governing leaders or who would best serve America? Another example even closer to home — would voters of Emerywood permit Daniel Brooks voting residents to select Emerywood representatives? Be careful how you answer for such change might also one day emerge.
Seriously, as I see it, High Point’s voters, like other municipal voters’ deserve correctness and consistency!
Al Campbell is a former High Point firefighter, City Council member and newspaper publisher. His column appears here every other Sunday. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.