Yesterday’s Republican lays out the risks and potential rewards of ward representation returning to Springfield. Jose Tosado, the “only Hispanic ever elected to the nine-member council,” believes that ward representation “will ensure full representation for our diverse neighborhoods and citizens and to increase voter participation in the electoral process,” while Councilor Timothy Rooke believes “it is going to be a cumbersome process for anyone who has to appear before the City Council, more so than it is now.”
It’s all relative. It’s easy to imagine that more democracy could bog things down. But if you acknowledge that things are already bogged down, as Rooke seems to, my experience has been that bringing new talent, perspectives, and energy onto the scene can break the inertia and speed things up quite a bit.
So which way will things go?: Historic increase in democratic participation, or a further descent into pothole politics and inertia?
Enter The Springfield Institute. We were set up to provide exactly the kinds of grassroots capacity-building that emerging leaders and residents need to be fully engaged, equal partners, and champions for their neighborhood, city, and region (see “About” section of our web site).