"Audrey" asks via email:
1. Given the fact
that most residents don't vote during non-Mayoral years, do you think it would
benefit the city to change the term for city councilor from two to four
years? If not, how would you propose driving up voter turnout in a non-Mayoral
year? 2. Do you think that
city councilors who hold outside jobs should take a full salary given this
economic climate? On that same note, do you think that city councilors should
be permitted to hold outside jobs?
On #1, my concern is that having municipal elections only every four years would make people even less plugged into city politics.
To be honest, the low turnout in off-year city elections can be viewed as perfectly reasonable behavior under the current city charter. If the only thing on the ballot is city councilors... well, I can't be bothered to vote for an American Idol, the winner of which has nearly the same power over our city's operation as a Boston City Councilor, right?
OK, that's a bit of hyperbole, but you get my drift. And since most of the councilors run with little or no opposition -- in part because who wants the meaningless job anyway -- what's going to pull people to the polls?
You want to drive up voter turnout for council elections, change the city charter.
As for #2, I think it would be a good gesture for city councilors to agree to a one-year pay cut, as their gesture of goodwill on the tough budget. I don't think I'd differentiate between those who hold outside jobs and those who don't -- the ones who don't might just be stupid wealthy on account of having some wealthy aunt or something.
I do think we should have some real financial disclosure about outside income and holdings, a proposal for which is currently under discussion in the council. Their feet should be held to the fire on that -- not that it matters, since most of them are going to sleepwalk to re-election anyway.