Another year, another Tucson election, another victory for Democrats. Tuesday’s city-wide elections for city council came and went with no real change in representation on the council. These results are to be expected in a city whose population of registered voters is roughly two-thirds Democrat. Still, it brings into sharp focus the need to change the antiquated hybrid model that Tucson currently uses for its elections.
The current hybrid system, which is ward-only for the primary election, but city-wide for the general, means that even when a Republican candidate wins their ward — something that happens more than people realize — they more often than not lose to the Democrat in the general.
The whole point of having a vote in the democratic process is so that citizens can pick someone to represent their interests in government. This has never been perfect, and indeed, cannot be. Within any measurable group of people you have a variety of interests that can never be fully represented. However, people do have shared values, and usually disparate groups will come together and vote for a candidate who has more in line with those values than another.
This is how we have arrived over time at our current two-party system. For the most part, if someone is registered with one of the major parties, that is how they will vote no matter what. Even those registered as Independent will more often than not find themselves gravitating toward one party over the other on a consistent basis, again because of shared values.
In a perfect world everyone would have their voice represented exactly in the halls of government, but that is not realistic. So, we have what we have: an entirely imperfect two-party system, and, supposedly, the chance to at least have some sort of representation. Presumably, a Republican will win a district that is predominantly Republican, and vice versa in a majority Democratic district.
This follows the whole idea of one’s elected official representing their values, at least in some small measure. This is why the Tucson system is so inherently flawed. By its design, a full third of its population is without representation! In the city’s six wards, Republicans actually hold a voter registration edge in one, yet, all six council members today are Democrats. In fact, the city’s history shows that a Republican, even a so-called moderate, has little chance of winning election, though it does happen on occasion.
It’s not just that the proverbial odds are against them demographically, the system is designed to multiply Democrat political strength, making a Democrat’s election an almost foregone conclusion, even in a ward that has a Republican majority population.
Considering this fact, it hardly makes sense that the city requires ward candidates to live in the ward they represent, because when it is all boiled down, it is not that ward’s population deciding who will get to represent them on the council. This is fundamentally inequitable. As recent court decisions stipulated, it is also perfectly legal.
Democrats may enjoy one-party rule, but aside from the fact that it lends itself more readily to bad government, it is decidedly unfair. If Tucson had a fairly represented city council, even in the limited terms of our two-party system, then from a statistical basis, there should be at least two Republicans on the council. If from a ward-population basis, then at least one GOP member of the council should exist.
As we can see, that is hardly ever a reality. More often than not, we have one party, Democrats, representing an entire city, when they do not represent 100 percent of the city’s population in any measure of the word.