Realtor Helps Heidelberger Withdraw from Aberdeen City Council Race

I’d like to serve on the Aberdeen City Council, fix some roads, and clarify that citizens can exercise their First Amendment rights in our city parks. Alas, that service won’t happen, at least not this year, all because of a realtor.

No, not Pat and his Iowa carpetbagger pal. My own realtor found us a house we like. We can move out of our rented digs into a house of our own this summer.

Unfortunately, that nice little house is in a different part of town, and Aberdeen assigns city council seats by district:

Aberdeen SD voting precincts and city council districts
(click to open official, zoomable PDF map of Aberdeen voting precincts and city council districts)

We currently rent in the red southeast district; our pending purchase is outside that district. Thus, if elected on June 2, I would soon be unable to serve as southeast district councilman.

I thus must withdraw from the Aberdeen City Council race, leaving the only excitement in our local election for the four school board candidates. I thank my realtor (as perhaps do a few dozen trembling hard-core conservatives who can’t fathom the notion that, when we stop talking about talk-radio rhetoric, conservatives and liberals can actually find common ground on local issues). I apologize to those who signed my nominating petition hoping for a contest and to those who may have been looking forward to casting their vote for their favorite Aberdeen blogger. (I don’t think I was going to get my southeast-district neighbor and blogospheric friend Ken Blanchard‘s vote, but it is fun to try!)

It occurs to me that allotting city council seats by district instead of electing those positions at large puts renters at a disadvantage. Renters have a unique stake in certain municipal issues, like building inspection, on-street parking, and park space (to make up for lack of yard space for recreation outside the apartment). Renters may have a keen interest in housing and workforce development programs that the city promotes, since successful programs of that sort may help them move up from renting to owning. Renters’ perspectives on city issues differ from those of folks with more housing security. But being more mobile than homeowners, renters are at a disadvantage in running for districted council offices: either they will have to restrict their rental choices to one corner of town (and in Aberdeen’s tight housing market, that’s nuts), or they’ll have to forego seeking any council seat other than mayor (and Mike Levsen’s seat doesn’t come open until 2019).

But hey, these things happen. Circumstances change, and new opportunities preclude other opportunities. We’ll get moved into our new house, I’ll finally have room to set up my sawhorses and host a big blog picnic (stay tuned for that shindig!), and there will be more opportunities to serve the public… and maybe more opportunities for me to try to get Ken Blanchard’s vote.

Now, Councilor Swanson, about these streets….

19 Responses to Realtor Helps Heidelberger Withdraw from Aberdeen City Council Race

  1. Congratulations! Will Joop be one of your new neighbors?

  2. Roger Cornelius

    As I don my tinfoil hat, I just have to ask Cory who bought him off not to run for city council and how much did they pay you?

    You know Dump Site Pat will create his own alternate universe theory.

  3. Roger, I’ll drive out to Rapid City this week in my new Maserati and tell you in person. ;-)

  4. Lynn, everyone in Aberdeen is my neighbor. Everyone in South Dakota is my neighbor. :-)

  5. Family First! Way to go Cory and congrats on the new house!

  6. Congratulations on becoming a land baron. Doesn’t Aberdeen have a rich heritage of candidates living outside their districts? Who cares? Carry on the tradition.

  7. Kelsey Collier-Wise

    Here’s why I like wards/districts over at-large: at large voting tends to favor a certain group of people in a certain part of town. Voting by ward at least creates some diversity of perspective and ideas. In Vermillion’s Southeast ward, there are always plenty of candidates — there have frequently been three-way contests. Voter registration and turnout is high. In the Northwest ward, candidates have frequently been uncontested and vote totals tend to be lower. If we elected at-large, chances are that the council would heavily favor the Southeast ward and might not have anyone from the Northwest. There are very few renters in SE, so they’d likely be cut off from serving and from being represented by someone who knows their neighborhood.

  8. Land baron—I like that, El Rayo. If I save up, maybe I can buy Northern Beef Packers the next time it comes up for sale. It could make a good roller rink.

  9. Fair point, Kelsey, that district-based seats could actually protect renters. Would a hybrid system work? Aberdeen has eight councilors, two from each district. How about one councilor from each district plus one (two?) at-large? Would something like that work in Vermillion?

  10. Deb Geelsdottir

    Good for you and the Rev in finding a house.

    I like the hybrid system. There is still a chance for some domination by one neighborhood, but it’s not as great. Plus, district representation ensures that every part of town has a voice.

  11. Kelsey Collier-Wise

    A hybrid system could definitely work. I’d never want to run at-large, though — I like only having to knock doors in my ward! :)

  12. I wonder how much this has cost our city? I am going to run, I am not going to run.

  13. Deb Geelsdottir

    Cory, which district are you moving to? Just curious/nosy.

  14. Probably not as much, Char, as the unnecessary wars and police state foisted upon us by the preceding President. ;-)

  15. But seriously, I’m disappointed no one else ran, and I’m disappointed that now the ballots the city has printed will go for naught. Every election should have challengers, and every ballot should have a chance to count.

    I’ll try really hard not to move during the next election, Char.

  16. All this horrible stuff seems to happen to our good friend Mr. H every time he runs for something. I smell conspiracy against him.

  17. Kelsey, I might prefer running at-large. I do love knocking on doors, but I also like being able to speak to any neighbor I meet at the grocery store, post office, or library about the campaign and, once elected, about issues anywhere in town.

    Does anyone see a downside to a hybrid system?

  18. Joseph Nelson

    Is it just the people who live in each district who get to vote for their council person? I can see that affecting how much a candidate would have to travel during campaigning. Keeping it as just the district would tie the council member more to their constituency, and that candidate could use their time and resources to focus on their district. An at large member would have to deal with and be knowledge about every issue in the city (not a bad thing, but I imagine they need to keep their day jobs too). Plus, your constituency knows you live in their part of town, and you are more accessible to them.

    I am curious about the gerrymandering that appears to have occurred when the voter map was revised in January of 2014. There are some interesting nooks and crannies, like the panhandle of 10 and the bottom cleft of 7….I do not know what the map looked like before, but it is laid out curiously.

  19. Voting: yes, Joseph, only SE district residents get to vote for SE district councilor.

    As noted above, only big towns are required to adopt this district model, which fits Joseph’s thoughts about a councilor knowing a district better than knowing the entire city. But Aberdeen doesn’t feel so big that a councilor who lives on Melgaard Ave. would not be aware of issues affecting folks who live up by the fairgrounds. Rapid City and Sioux Falls may be big enough for that location-based diversity to matter in electing councilors; is any other town in South Dakota like that?

    Gerrymandering: That “cleft” of precinct 7 seems odd when we view it along with 4 as a dog-leg on the northeast district. The swirl around the center of town seems unusual as well; it seems odd that I can drive straight down State Street (the boundary between Precincts 1 & 2, NW and NE districts) and pass through 7 blocks of the NE district, then 6 blocks of the SE district, then 4 blocks of the SW district. I don’t know the history of the revisions—I wonder what population locations may have motivated those lines instead of a straighter cut of the cake?