Readers respond: Test charter changes elsewhere

Columnist Candace Avalos writes that Measure 26-228 will reform our charter in such ways as to create more voter participation, better representation, and more responsiveness to citizens, ending up with an all-around groovy place to live. (“Candace Avalos column: Portland’s future is on the ballot,” Oct. 23)

Who could be against this? But read it again. This time strip away the travelogue-like language and wishful thinking such as, “Multimember districts reward councilors for working together rather than mudslinging and politicizing our complex problems.” We are then left with opinions and conjectures based on theoretical, computer-generated voting models never tested in the real world, and supported only by “what-if” polls and surveys. This reform measure proposes to create a new government structure and combines it with a new voting method, resulting in a package that is not in use by any city in the U.S.

Maybe Measure 26-228 could solve Portland’s problems. But then again, it may not. At a minimum, we should require the proponents and political scientists who have promoted this scheme to test their theory of single transferable votes with multimember districts in another city. For more than 70 years, Portlanders have been discussing charter reform. Surely, we can wait two years or so to see if the changes proposed in Measure 26-228 work in any other city in the U.S.

Vote no. We can always vote yes when we have more information.

Barbara Mutnick, Portland

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