There’s a group exploring the idea of single-member districts. The idea is that each district elects its own county commissioner. Right now, the commissioners are elected by voters county-wide. And that leads to some odd situations.
The name of the group is SMART Districts. They have a website and a Facebook page. I checked out both today to see if there was anything new and saw a post on their Facebook. Here’s an excerpt.
Keep in mind, at any time the current BOCC could place the referendum on the ballot and allow the citizens of Monroe County to decide how we elect our officials. Please don’t hold your breath. In fact many commissioners including Silvia Murphy (Dist 5), David Rice (Dist 4), and George Nuegent (Dist 2) have all come out publicly speaking out against Single Member Districts. What’s most disturbing is they are all trying to lobby politicos to dissuaded the petition drive.
I don’t believe the current BOCC would ever place this referendum on the ballot. They’re too used to gaming the system the way it is. George Neugent wouldn’t be in office today if Monroe County had single-member districts. He lost his own district to Danny Coll in the 2014 Republican primary. There is no way in a million years, he would be willing to change the system.
I think people in District 5 are finally waking up to the fact that Sylvia Murphy does not represent them. She never has, she never will. She sees to it that District 5 tax money is squandered elsewhere. That’s her job on the BOCC, and she really likes her job. She’s said that a million times. I would assume that Murphy has zero chance of being re-elected in her own district at this point. But you never know, voters are strange animals sometimes. In any case, Murphy’s lack of support for single-member districts is an indication that she is worried about getting re-elected by her own district.
No matter what your issue is, Murphy will gladly let you know that she doesn’t care. High kill rate at the animal shelter? She’s “perfectly happy” with that. Not happy that you’re paying too much for your sewer project? She’s happy with her sewer bill, so you should be happy with yours. Her “no-can-do” attitude inspired me to make this campaign poster.
I think the single-member district idea has merit. But the current BOCC does not want it to happen, and with good reason. They would actually be held accountable by the voters in their own districts. It’s easier for them to occasionally travel around to the other four districts and lend a (fake) sympathetic ear than to actually accomplish something for their own constituents.
I hope the SMART Districts group keeps plugging away. They’re going to have to take it directly to the citizens. I think any change is going to be a tough sell at first. At-large districts give voters the illusion that they have more influence than they actually do.
Take the situation with Comm. Neugent as an example. He lost his own district, District 2, and was re-elected by Districts 4 and 5. But what good did that do Districts 4 and 5? He’s already talking about taking his “vote elsewhere”. Wastewater funding parity is still a distant dream for those communities. And now Neugent seems to be arguing in favor of Carruthers’s Emergency Services Surtax, which hits Key Largo (in District 5) especially hard. It’s not good for any local residents really, but it’s really tough on Key Largo.
This is exactly what a lack of accountability looks like. These commissioners can throw their own district under the bus and then go sweet talk voters in the other districts in order to get re-elected. Single-member districts put a stop to that nonsense.