On Tuesday, voters had their chance to weigh in, and we are pleased to report that three of the candidates we endorsed won their races.
Congratulations to Mayor-elect Ben Bohmfalk and Trustee Erica Sparhawk in Carbondale, and Councilmember-elect Caitlin Carey in New Castle.
As an organization, we endorse candidates for public office who we believe are best aligned with our values and mission. Our full slate of endorsed municipal candidates included Caitlin Carey for the New Castle Town Council; Ben Bohmfalk for Carbondale Mayor; and Luis Yllanes, Erica Sparhawk, and Colin Quinn for the Carbondale Board of Trustees.
Now that the election is over, we think that this is a moment to consider whether our communities would be better-served -- and voters better represented -- if their representatives were elected from geographical districts rather than at-large elections, in which candidates are selected by voters from the entire community.
Consider the case of Carbondale. Nearly half of residents there are Latino, but the only candidate of color lost, and the town will not have a single person of color on their Board of Trustees. In smaller at-large races where many candidates vie for a handful of seats (this year it was 8 candidates for 3 seats in Carbondale), it often comes down to how many people you know and who votes in municipal elections in April. Historically, selecting local elected officials in at-large models disadvantages people of color.
Breaking communities into equitable districts, even if fewer people turn out to vote in some districts, assure geographical representation and, given that minority voters tend to live near one another, has the potential to add some racial/ethnic diversity in elected local office.
Efforts to move away from at-large models have been seen all across the country in large and small communities. It’s a topic of conversation we hope our leaders consider as they work to create representative bodies that are reflective of the communities they serve.
Read more about our endorsement process and our endorsed candidates at www.vocesunidasaction.org/elections.