At-Large Voting VS. By-Ward Voting

April 24, 2006 -- 6:20 PM CST


JONESBORO, AR-- Jonesboro currently uses an at-large voting system to pick city council members, but the clock is winding down, and on Thursday, community leaders will meet to discuss maybe changing that system.

"Some of the confusion is that most of the people in J onesboro don't know who their city council person is," said Rev. Dr. Charles Coleman of Jonesboro.

Coleman has participated in several community projects in Jonesboro, and he’s a proponent of what is called the by-ward system.

"My suggestion is that maybe we go half ward, half city...that way maybe somebody can hear our total concerns," he said.

There are currently six wards in J onesboro with two council members in each ward.   With the at-large voting process, all residents in J onesboro can vote for council members positions in every ward; but proponents of the by-ward voting process suggest that residents in each ward vote for their ward representative only.


"The by-ward system creates greater accountability, so that each ward representative is accountable to his or her own ward," said Everett Fair, of Jonesboro.

Councilman Jim Hargis said that the at-large voting system is just fine.

"I have thought through it...and it doesn't seem beneficial to me, but if the majority of the people feel that it is, than that's what we need to do," he said.

Council members, community leaders and J onesboro residents will meet at the Huntington building at 6 p.m. Thursday, and Fair said that everyone should attend.

"Regardless of what side of the fence you're on, I think it's important to come out and let your feelings be known," he said.


Only time will tell if the system changes, but until it does, city council members will be chosen through the at-large voting system, whether residents are advocates of the system or not.