Political Downsizing is Latest Weapon for Voters

As the local teaparty crowd and a rising, youthfully oriented conservative movement tries to create a discussion in Maryland’s 10th county about the role of government in Cecil County, this piece in USA Today caught our attention. 

From USA Today —

‘Political downsizing’ is latest weapon for voters

HAMBURG, N.Y. — Joe Killian rose at a taxpayers’ forum one night to bemoan the chronically high cost of government in western New York. “Nothing’s worked,” said the burly, 59-year-old water utility worker. “We’re the Cubs. This team don’t win.”It’s winning now. Discouraged by unemployment and depopulation and frustrated by politicians’ inability to solve either, voters aren’t just throwing the rascals out of office — they’re throwing out the offices.

 In what this region calls “political downsizing,” communities are voting by referendum to reduce the number of seats on town councils. The movement’s theory, as voiced by its founder, a gadfly named Kevin Gaughan: The best (and maybe only) way to cut government is to start with your own representatives.

 So far the downsizing movement is confined mostly to western New York, but it’s part of a national wave of frustration over big government that was illustrated this year by raucous town-hall-style meetings over health care and the rise of the Tea Party movement. Unlike those movements, downsizing is a proven hit at the ballot box.

 This year, all four towns that considered citizen-initiated referendums to trim their boards from five members to three have voted to do so.

Article continues on USA Today


One response to “Political Downsizing is Latest Weapon for Voters

  1. Having lived in Western NY for a few years, I know there is a unique multi-layered system of local government there. For example, there is a town government and board, then beneath that layer there is a village government and board. And above those layers there can be a city govt and board/council and above all is the Erie County government and legislature.
    As a result, a resident can end up paying taxes to village, town, and county government! That’s a strong contrast to Cecil County, with just a handful of incorporated towns and no village government structure. But it is an incentive for many homebuyers to prefer a house outside town limits.

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