Champaign County Moves Ahead on Proposals for Single-Member Districts

January 18, 2010

The Champaign County Board has slated a public hearing for February 9th on a proposal for single-member county board districts, coupled with a reduction in the number of county board members.

County Board Policy Committee Chairman Tom Betz put the hearing on the agenda for the board's February 9th committee of the whole meeting --- and he hopes board members will discuss the idea more than once before making a decision. Betz says the current multi-member districts make county board members less accountable to voters.

"Multi-member districts -- and I used to not feel this way -- allow people to duck their responsibilities. Someone else could do the work because they could be invisible," Betz said. "Unfortunately, I think that's one of the problems of the current system."

Betz' proposal couples single-member districts with a smaller county board --- some 13 to 17 members. Betz says the current 27-member board is too big for single-member districts to be workable, and that shrinking the board further to 9 members would rob it of its diversity.

Champaign County voters rejected single-member districts in an advisory referendum in 2001.

Story source: AP