Voting 'No' on Propositions 1 and 2

RECEIVED Tue., Oct. 30, 2012

Dear Editor,
    I vote the Chronicle's endorsements on the majority of occasions ["Nov. 6 Elections: The 'Chronicle' Endorsements," News, Oct. 19]. However, I will not be following your lead on several key issues on the November ballot. I will be voting "No" on propositions 1 and 2, City Charter amendments to change the dates and terms for City Council elections. I think the proposals are poorly thought-out.
    The good points of these proposals are that they will increase voter turnout in general elections and save modest amounts of money conducting them (though less than one-tenth of 1% of the city budget).
    The bad points?
    1) Proposition 2 gives four-year terms, which is too long for accountability. Council could have still proposed two-year terms and timed them with November elections to increase turnout. They didn't. Two-year terms were common in Austin through most of the 20th century.
    2) Council elections require run-offs, which will take place during the Christmas season under these proposals. Talk about low turnouts, you might be able to fit the voters for run-offs in your living room.
    3) Due to campaign funding limits, there will simply not be enough money to run citywide elections in November. This funding gap will likely be made up by the two major political parties, who will probably fund their own slates. This deters independent grassroots candidates.
    Many activists think that November elections are some kind of magic bullet to increase democratic participation. There is no question that turnout in general elections will increase by huge numbers. However, many of these same people, including several writers for the Chronicle, may shortly be regretting the lack of accountability created by the four-year terms that they championed.
Paul Robbins
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle