The Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday night heard a variety of arguments in support of district elections, but there remains one argument that stands out from all the others. It goes like this:
For 20 years, city councils have pledged to reach out to the unrepresented neighborhoods of the city, but nothing has changed. The same people from the same northeast neighborhoods run the show, leaving the rest to believe that City Hall is not interested in their views.
To be successful, cities need to share the tasks of citizenship and the pride of being part of one community.
For Santa Rosa, nothing is more important right now than figuring out how to make that happen.
Will district elections make it all better? Not without other good-faith efforts.
But it's time to shake City Hall from its long slumber.
As the City Council began sorting through the recommendations from seven months of work by a Charter Review Committee, other reasons for district elections were also submitted.
Some argued that voters ought to be able to decide an issue that has been debated for so long.
Others said a ballot measure is necessary to immunize the city from voting rights litigation that could cost millions of dollars.
Others still — with a bit of hyperbole — said it's a matter of simple democracy, as if voters in some neighborhoods aren't even allowed to vote. "Let freedom ring," they declared.