The Dispatch reported today on the economic experience of cities with wards and at-large councils. But there’s a problem. The ward “success stories” are cities that didn’t have wards until last year! Oops.
The article also buries some great information about the impact of the new wards on local elections. A little Googling reveals even more details.
Seattle’s first ward-based elections set new records for special interest and candidate spending.
- In Seattle, the average council candidate raised $200,000, while one candidate raised $460,000.
- Special interest spending skyrocketed in Seattle’s first ward-based election, with $784,365 spent. That’s 21,928% more special interest spending than the last at-large election and 583% more than any other year since 2001.
- “Texas Values Action sent out a mailer contrasting Zimmerman’s anti-gay and anti-choice bona fides with Jimmy Flannigan’s pro-LGBT rights and pro-choice stance, while Pressley accused D4 opponent Greg Casar of not only being single, but also an atheist.”
- “With 10-1 came “independent expenditure campaigns.” South Carolina-based South Forward PAC placed calls to voters…” Independent PACs spent over $750,000 on the election.
- Total spending in Austin’s first wards election was $6,300,000. All but two candidates won by double digits.
This isn’t news to researchers, who have found Columbus’ system is more competitive than poorly-planned ward-based elections.