Hezekiah Bradford, President of the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance (SAMA), sent a letter to Mayor Kilsheimer and the City Commissioners on January 14 of this year. In the last paragraph of that letter, Pastor Bradford wrote:
“In my capacity as the President of the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance, I am requesting that we be placed on the February City Council evening meeting agenda in an effort to allow better community attendance, so that we can present empirical data and a logic model in support of taxation through representation via single member districts for the City of Apopka.”
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This effort to change the way Apopka votes is not a new idea. For the past few months, Pastor Bradford and the SAMA in hopes of bringing it to the commission have lobbied the idea in the media. In November of 2013, it was an agenda item analyzed by the Apopka Charter Review Committee.
But what is a Single Member District?
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All this week The Apopka Voice will look into this issue. Today we will explain exactly what a single member district is and how it contrasts to the current model Apopka has in place. In future installments, we will look at the current City Commissioner’s opinions as well as the candidates for the City Commission and Mayor Kilsheimer. Additionally, we will show how these districts might look and contrast that with the current addresses of the City Commission, Mayor and candidates. Do they truly represent ALL of Apopka or does the address of an elected official truly reflect their viewpoint? Finally we will show what, if anything, is standing in the way of this effort.
But first, what is a Single Member District?
The single member district model is the most common and best-known electoral system currently in use in America.
It is used to elect the U.S. House Representatives, as well as many state and local legislative bodies. Many cities over 50,000 in population are using the single member district model. Under single member systems, an area is divided into a number of geographically defined voting districts, each represented by a single elected official. Voters can only vote for their district’s representative, with the highest vote-getter winning election. In some jurisdictions, such as Apopka, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes, or face a runoff against the candidate with the second-most votes.
The voting model in Apopka for City Council is an “at-large” style, which means a candidate can live anywhere in Apopka and theoretically represents all of Apopka, if elected. There are four “seats” on the City Council rather than four districts represented; therefore a candidate is running for the "seat" rather than to represent a specific constituency.
Tomorrow: What does Mayor Kilsheimer, the City Council, and current candidates for Seats #3 and #4 think about single member districts? And what was learned from the Apopka City Charter Review Committee’s findings on this subject?
Use this link to view a short video that outlines the proposal from the South Apopka Ministerial Alliance:
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