Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Boston Globe: “The electoral system was the cause of the inequity”

"In Everett today, white, non-Hispanic residents make up less than 44 percent of the population, but they dominate city government. Seventy-five percent of the elected councilors and school committee members are white.

That’s no accident, critics say; it’s a natural outgrowth of the city’s electoral system.

Everett is one of several cities in Massachusetts where all local officials are elected at-large, and none by individual wards or districts. For years, civil rights specialists have called that a recipe for exclusion. White residents, even as a minority, often vote as a bloc and drown out the voices of Black and brown voters. Lawyers for Civil Rights, a nonprofit legal organization, recently put Everett councilors on notice that they’re vulnerable to a challenge under the Voting Rights Act.

“There’s no shot against anybody because they’re a white man or a white woman. We are violating the federal Voting Rights Act,” Everett City Councilor Gerly Adrien, the first Black woman to serve on the council, warned her colleagues at a December council meeting."
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Editorial note: Voting for our Town Council or School Committee by precinct rather than "at-large" (as we do today) may be more of a consideration as our population grows. In the meantime, there are other practical ways to increase the diversity of candidates for our local government and ensure a fair and equitable voice "in the room where it happens." We do need to work at being a government "of the people, by the people, for the people." 


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