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Prov Council to consider at-large seats

Speaking of Rhode Island's Future, David Segal has a report there on apparent plans by the Providence City Council to consider the inclusion of some at-large seats. Some progressives have championed this idea as a way to bring a broader outlook to the council, but the concept isn't without some downside:

It's my understanding that on Tuesday the City Council's Ordinance Committee will be taking a look at various plans to change the way we elect councilmembers. 

Ari and I just got back from Fairvote's 15th anniversary convention, and are particularly attuned to the profound effects our electoral structures have over who gets elected, and what they work on.

Unless we're very careful, moving to an at-large system will tend to skew the council more towards white, wealthy, high-turnout areas of the city -- meaning more power for those who already have disproportionate influence.  It's a bad idea. 

Many cities and towns -- San Francisco, for instance -- have recently moved AWAY FROM at-large seats, and to single-member districts, as a pro-democracy measure.

The push for at-large seats follows from a legitimate sense that Providence politics can be parochial -- but if we really want to improve our democracy, it's imperative that any at-large members be elected proportionately.

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