Younger suggests redistricting to boost election participation

Editor & Publisher

Former Commissioner and current Charter Review Board Member Phill Younger is making his case to redistrict Longboat Key to enhance participation in town elections.

In a three-page memo that will be considered at the May 24 Charter Review Committee meeting, Younger details what he sees are some fundamental problems with the current five district system on the island and he also proposes solutions.

Younger writes that about two-thirds of all commission  district races have not been contested since the year 2000. In his analysis, he writes that there have been 46 commission races for seats in the five town districts since 2000.  Of those, 72 percent, or 33 of them, having only a single candidate, and only 28 percent, or 13 of the races, were contested. However, Younger notes that for the two At-Large seats there were 19 races and 58 percent of them were contested.

“The current five district arrangement strongly tilts the chance of gaining a seat on the commission toward a single candidate who happens to live within a specifically defined area,” said Younger.

Younger notes that Longboat Key has been fortunate to have had well-qualified and suitable people serve on the commission, but he adds, “the current arrangement could eventually give rise to less than optimal situations.”

In short, Younger suggests redistricting Longboat Key from five to three or four districts to enlarge the pool of viable candidates. He goes into detail showing possible geographical boundaries.

The matter will be one of many possible Charter changes that the five-member Charter Review Committee will consider in the coming weeks before it sends its recommendations to the Town Commission. If the commission wishes to adopt any of the changes, it can only do so through an affirmative vote by the public.

The Charter Review Committee will meet on May 24 at 9:30 a.m. in Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road.

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