Letter: At-large hurts students

By The Daily Illini

I was surprised to see the best interests of students completely ignored in the DI editorial about the at-large ballot proposal in Urbana. The fact that students have never won at-large seats in Carbondale, Normal or Champaign should be a concern to all students. Many students have been elected to Urbana City Council from wards, which is one of the reasons election by ward is better than at-large. It opens up public service to a more diverse population than citywide elections – it helps students attain direct representation in our local government.

Supporters of at-large elections have grossly exaggerated the population of one ward in an effort to convince fair-minded people to support a class-based form of election. Ward 6 in southeast Urbana had 5,165 people when the census was last conducted and it is unlikely that the population has topped 6,000 in the intervening four years. That’s about the same as the population of Ward 3 in northwest Urbana. At-large proponents never mention population growth in Ward 3 because the truth undermines their claims of underrepresentation.

Supporters of the at-large referendum spoke before the city council and implied that students don’t deserve to be represented in government because so few students vote. Next Tuesday, let’s prove them wrong and vote “no” on at-large elections for Urbana.

Sascha Meinrath

graduate student

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