Ward system still works

Gloversville voters may be asked this fall to decide if they want citywide Common Council elections.

We recommend the city stick with the current system of electing one person from each ward to the council.

Citywide council elections easily could lead to questions of fairness if one of the six wards does not have a council representative. Citywide council elections could cause discord and make the council more interested in playing politics than conducting city business.

As Mayor Dayton King and members of the Common Council spar over which referendums get on the ballot, the council has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday on the citywide council elections proposal. Under the proposal, the top vote-getters in the city elections would take seats on the council. Currently, voters in each of the six wards select a councilman, and all city voters select a councilman-at-large.

Gloversville’s current system is working fine. By having a councilman from each ward, city residents know they have someone living near them who sees the same problems they do. People are influenced by what they see. Someone who lives in the Second Ward may not see the same problems people in the Fifth Ward see, or vice versa. The current system also gives residents easy access to an elected representative.

Gloversville is a city with more than 15,000 residents, not a town with a couple thousand or a few hundred.

When someone has a complaint about city services – such as snowplowing, police response, road maintenance or garbage pickup – it’s good to know someone in the neighborhood understands the concern and can deal with it on the council.

If council members end up coming from only two or three sections of the city, people may worry the neighborhoods where the council members live would receive more government attention than other neighborhoods.

Citywide elections also could lead to more attempts by elected city officials to get their friends into office.

Electing council members by ward may not be a perfect system, but it’s better than opening up all the council seats to a citywide contest.