Single member county districts closer to reality
Opponents say they will fight to maintain status quo

The Florida Senate put its stamp of approval by voting voted 39 to 0 on what has come to be known as the single-member-district bill (HB1494) that the Florida House also approved unanimously, which gives the voters of Alachua County a chance to decide what type of county government structure they think would work best for them.

What is a single member district? A county commissioner will only be able to get elected by the voters in his/her district. No getting votes from other districts
What do we have now? We now have an at-large system where a county commissioner can get votes from all over the county, not just his/her district.

There are those who vehemently oppose giving the voters the power to make such a decision. Instead, their main argument is the voters should not be given this power, they should have to work for it, and they should have to earn it. They say Tallahassee does not have the right to grant power to voters in such a way because it preempts the rules of the county charter. In other words, the charter can only be amended by the locals only since it is their voter approved charter. Any changes to be made must follow the ground rules laid out in the charter.

On the surface the opponents of single-member county commission districts have a valid argument. After all, the charter or constitution is something the citizens of the county live under and should not be open to outside interference. The constitution does lists ways the locals can change it if they desire. Though this may seem like a slam-dunk issue for those who are against single-member-districts, it is far from it for others.

In 1990 when the Alachua County Charter was created with voter approval the thought was if the charter needs to be amended the provisions are there. County politics have evolved since the 90s' and so has the population of the county. Democrats have long had control over the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) and the Charter Review Commission (CRC).

The BoCC and the CRC control two of the three ways the constitution can be changed. Both entities, the BoCC and the CRC have developed a perverted reflexivity that can only be described as tribalism. The BoCC wants to keep the status quo because it works for the BoCC. The CRC meets every ten years to offer changes to the constitution and when they meet they go to great lengths to determine who have the group think profile that qualifies them to server on the CRC. In other words, it is a zombie commission that carries out orders from upstairs.

The third way the constitution can be changed is by gathering signatures outside of Wal-Mart or some other location where you might find a crowd. This method requires ten percent of registered voters to sign a petition. This is not an impossible task but given how divisive the climate has become in this post covid world, the task is onerous at best. How likely will supervisor of elections validate the signatures is a big unknown that require a lot of effort before that question can be answered. Then there is the time factor that has to be considered; unless you are retired or overly wealthy the signature route is a non-starter.

All the opponents of single-member-districts say they will gladly honor the wishes of those who are able to succeed at conquering any of the three feats listed in the constitution for making a change. The logic is if you bring me the broomstick of the wicked witch of the west I will gladly see that you get back to Kansas. The Florida legislature resoundingly voted in favor of not making the citizens of Alachua County jump through such hoops; just put the matter on the ballot and let the voters decide.
Having today's voters decide what type of county government they want by taking a vote in no way breaks anything, and it should be seen as a healthy type of preemption that strengthens the constitution so it works for the present instead of the past.

Pros And Cons
Single member districts: The voters in the district become the sole boss of the commissioner of the district. The commissioner must please the voters in his/her district if they want to keep their job.
Single member districts: The commissioner of a district must please the voters in his/her district or else be voted out.
Commissioners will no longer be able to rely on votes from other districts in order to remain in power.
Single member districts: Disparities in spending amongst the districts will become more equitable. If they don't whoever is failing the district can be voted out.
Single member districts: Voters who have had very little say in what happens in their district will now have a true voice at the table.
At-large districts: The commissioner does not have to have votes from his/her district in order to win the district.
At-large districts: This system has resulted in huge disparities in spending across the districts.
At-large districts: Voters are said to have five commissioners representing their district instead of just one.
At-large districts: This system has created a very uneven playing field amongst the districts.
At-large districts: The commissioner of the district cannot be fired solely by the voters in his/her district.

Single member districts create a level playing field for taxpayers across all districts by ensuring voters of a district will have the right to choose who best represents them.
-GatorTown Review-