Two sitting council members seek to change way council members are elected
Currently, Homer City Council members are elected “at-large.” That means every year, two of the six council positions are up for election, and all the people who want to be on the council compete against each other for the most votes. The top two vote-getters are declared the winners.
Now, two council members want the city to have designated seats, which would force challengers to pick which council member they will run against. It does not guarantee that the top two vote-getters will be the winners, just that the top vote-getter for each seat will be declared the winner.
Council members Heath Smith and Storm Hansen-Cavasos sponsored the ordinance and spoke to their support at Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Smith said the current at-large system, despite being used for decades nationwide, can be too-easily gamed by bad actors.
“It really comes down to me that is that every vote that we cast should carry the same weight as the other. And in the current system, it does not do that. And so I want to make sure that that there is not any system that can be manipulated or an encouragement that can be made for any voter bloc to not use every vote afforded to them,” Smith said. “Any individual of course can say, ‘Hey, I'm only voting once,’ whatever. I mean, that's different than when you have a group of people deciding that they are going to try to use a one vote approach in order to, I used ‘game the system’ or the election, and that's exactly what it is.”
Smith did not say which of his fellow council members he thought might have been elected via such a gamed system.
Hansen-Cavasos was the co-sponsor. She said she wanted the freedom to not run against someone, which is not possible in the current system.
“I know that there were several people I personally knew, only voted once for those very same reasons. And I think that that doesn't help things,” Hansen-Cavasos said. “And maybe I don't want to run against, you know, maybe somebody else because I want to be with them on the council. And I think this would eliminate that and allow me to pick who I potentially wanted to run with or sit on the council with. So that's why I agreed to sponsor this with Heath.”
During the regular council meeting, there were four residents who supported the ordinance, Michaela Mobrey, Kenneth Bryant, Cassidy Lush and Chris Gaffey.
Though not all of the other council members were convinced, the designated council seat ordinance had enough support to be introduced and will be further debated by council at a future meeting.