Open Letter to Chairman Chism

Chairman Chism, Democratic Shelby County Commissioners and SCDP Executive Committee:

Today at 1:30 p.m., you will once again attempt to resolve the redistricting plan for the Shelby County Commission. I have attached two emails from one of your Republican Colleagues, Chris Thomas, to the Suburban Chambers of Commerce and Suburban Mayors. In these emails, Thomas is supporting the 3 member districts which exist now as the best thing for Republicans. I can only assume that the key reason he supports this plan is because he sees and anticipates a power grab in 2014, and it could happen if you allow it.

We all know that Commissioner Mulroy's District, District 5, is the swing district which could go either way. If the Republicans really go after this district with a well-funded moderate Republican, we could be facing a 7-6 Republican majority County Commission. Why would we allow this to happen when the Republicans at the state level and throughout this nation will strengthen their positions for the next 10 years during their redistricting process? Why would we even consider anything which would cripple or weaken us in the future?

Again, this is why the single-member district plan is the best plan for Democrats. With this plan, we are assured of a majority Democratic-controlled County Commission, and we should take advantage of this opportunity. Apparently, you have the two Republican votes which are needed (Roland and Ritz) for something other than the 3 member plan. Please reconsider your support of a plan which we know will better position Republicans and which would likely hurt Democrats in the future.


Van Turner, Chair
Shelby County Democratic Party


CAM said...

Single member districts are best all the way around, not just to help Democrats. In fact, I think either Party can benefit depending on the quality of the candidate and the campaign effort. What single member districts do is to lower the influence of special interests in campaigns since Districts are small enough that a modestly funded candidate has a chance to win. Also, if a commissioner isn't doing his or her job, it's easier for a challenger to mount a strong campaign.

Reginald Milton said...

As someone who has run for public office I agree CAM. In my race I had to campaign in North Memphis, Midtown, Downtown and South Memphis! The cost and energy to get your message out to the public is daunting.

From a Community Organizer view I also saw that the turn out in the more poor areas were much lower. This makes candidates focus on the higher income communities; creating even greater apathy among urban residents.