The GEO has endorsed two referenda appearing on the November 2nd ballot:
1. Vote NO to At-Large Representation on the Urbana City Council
2. Vote YES to a Champaign County Developmental Disability Board
The union urges its members to read the following information to familiarize themselves with the two issues and let other graduate employees, partners, and friends know about these referenda.
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Vote NO to At-Large Representation on the Urbana City Council
In Urbana there is a city referendum that seeks to add two at-large seats to the Urbana city council (currently only 7 ward seats) to bring the total to nine.
Shall the City of Urbana restrict the number of aldermen to a total
of nine, with one alderman representing each of the seven wards, plus an additional two aldermen to be elected at large?
The GEO urges you to VOTE NO on this question. Here is why it is so important:
The current system divides Urbana geographically by population into seven wards, each of which is equally represented by an alderperson on the City Council. Regardless of voter turnout, all ~5500 people are still duly represented in the city government.
At Large Voting is antithetical to our interests and ideals as citizens, students, and members of a democratic union.
* AT LARGE VOTING IS BAD FOR DEMOCRACY. In city after city, at-large voting results in an underrepresentation of minority groups. Locally, this is manifest in the following way: currently, 1/7 of Urbana’s population is African-American, and 1/7 councilmembers are African-American. Adding two seats, to be elected by the city at large, will result in underrepresentation of minority residents.
* AT LARGE VOTING IS BAD FOR WORKING PEOPLE. Mounting an at-large campaign requires significant resources; as a result, at-large candidates will be beholden to big-money contributers. Moreover, because voter turnout is lower amongst low-income people, the election of the at-large candidates will be disproportionately decided by people of higher economic class.
* AT LARGE VOTING IS BAD FOR STUDENTS. Currently, 4/7 wards are student-populated, giving us a majority on the council. As a result,we enjoy more favorable tenant laws and recycling than our counterparts in Champaign (which has at-large seats). The two at-large seats would put us in the minority, as they are unlikely to be filled by people who are concerned with our particular interests.
* AT LARGE VOTING IS BAD FOR POLITICAL SOLIDARITY. When the GEO needed the support of the Urbana City Council, the Council stretched its purview in order to pass a resolution urging the UI to negotiate with grads; this
external pressure was crucial in our struggle to attain a recognized
union. Such collaboration is only possible when close, personal working relationships exist between the councilmembers and the people they represent, and those relationships cannot be built by at-large candidates who have to represent 40,000 people rather than 5000.
Vote No on At-Large Referendum (Question #3)