City council challenger condemns at-large representation

Keegan Garrity is the lone challenger running against Amy Z. Anderson and Ernesto Lopez, who are incumbent members of the Logan City Council.

LOGAN – The dark horse candidate for a seat on Logan’s City Council has come out swinging, condemning the council’s at-large representation for stifling political competition.

This year there are fewer candidates than there have been in at least 20 years, maybe ever,” says community activist Keegan Garrity. “This means there will be no primary election for city council candidates.”

Garrity is the lone challenger running against incumbent city council members Amy Z. Anderson and Ernesto López, so City Recorder Teresa Harris confirmed that there will be no primary voting for the two city council seats that are now in contention.

That scant field of candidates is in stark contrast to 2020, when 16 residents applied to serve out the unexpired term of former council member Jess Bradfield.

“Where are those people now?” Garrity asks. “I’ll tell you where they are. They are looking at unsuccessful candidates of the past who raised more then $10,000 in donations, spent more than 40 hours knocking on doors throughout more than 11,000 acres of the city, put up hundreds of signs and ran dozens of ads and still didn’t win.

It’s a tough game and the competition gets harder every year.”

The solution to that dearth of candidates and the daunting uphill battle to win an at-large seat on the municipal council is a switch to voter district representation, according to Garrity. That change is something that the insurgent candidate advocated for as a neighborhood representative on Logan’s 2020 Voter District Subcommittee.

Garrity was one of five majority members of that committee who recommended a change to district voting as a way to increase diversity on the city council and provide more adequate representation of the city’s west side neighborhoods.

The members of city council took that recommendation “under advisement” and launched their own inquiry into voting protocols that is still proceeding at what can only be described as a glacial pace.

But Garritty obviously intends to make voter district representation into an issue in the upcoming campaign.

“Does this (at-large) system produce the best candidates?” Garrity asks. “Does one’s ability to succeed in an at-large race have a direct correlation to his or her ability to represent their constituents and truly know their struggles? I don’t believe it does.

“My hope is that I will be the last challenger to win under this grueling system,” he adds, “so it can be replaced with a voting system that results in more proportional and equitable representation to restore balance to our local government.”

The three candidates for the two open at-large seats on the Logan City Council will face off in the general election set for Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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3 Comments

  • Wayne Smith June 9, 2021 at 2:32 pm Reply

    Single member districts will not solve the problem. For a fair voting system, you need proportional representation. Changing to a Single Transferable Vote system would be a simple change that would convert your voting system, currently one of the worst possible, into one of the best possible. Get more info here: http://fairvote.org

    • Keegan June 9, 2021 at 9:45 pm Reply

      Geographic-based districts and instant runoff systems such as ranked choice voting (RCV) don’t have to be mutually exclusive! I’d love to hear more about how you are defining the problem and your ideas on how RCV can solve them. Join my group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/keeganforlogan

    • Don June 10, 2021 at 9:43 am Reply

      Geographically based voting districts is a method that can be used for proportional representation. With proportional representation, the trick is choosing what characteristics you want the proportions to be based on. With a geographically based system, the proportion is that each geographic area gets one seat. It can also be done along party lines and commonly is done that way in other countries, but Logan has non-partisan elections, so political party is irrelevant here.

      I love the idea of ranked choice or other transferable vote systems, but to me that wouldn’t really make as much of a difference in Logan. It makes more sense in partisan elections at the state and national levels. The biggest effect it would have here in Logan is that it would make it so we wouldn’t need a primary election if more than two candidates run for each office. Due to removing the need for a primary, it is probably worth it, but it wouldn’t really help with the proportional representation issue.

      Wayne, what’s your proposal in terms of what the proportional representation should be based on? The website you refer to talks about how ranked choice voting results in more women being elected and also how political parties are more evenly represented. We actually already do pretty well at having women elected to office (2 of 5 city council currently, plus the mayor are women). We also do pretty well at electing liberals in what is generally an area that votes conservative. Not having the elections be partisan, it ends up being more about the individual than the party. I won’t go into who is conservative vs. liberal on the city council, but we elect many more democrats in our non-partisan elections than we would if they were partisan elections.

      If we want to do ranked choice voting, let’s do it because it is a good thing, but let’s not pretend it will have anything to do with proportional representation, unless you can tell us what groups you’re trying to represent better. Geography is the only one I can think of. What do you recommend we group people on?

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