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W H Y W E N E E D C I T Y C O U N C I L D I S T R I C T S I N T H E C I T Y O F M O U N T V E R N O N?

Why We Need Council Districts in the City of Mount Vernon? This campaign is about creating a City government for all residents and all communities, not just the political insiders and the big money donors. Electing one person who represents you and your community is better than voting for five people who do not represent you and are not accountable to you or your community.  Better Representation:

 Currently our 5 City Council members represent the whole City, but no one is responsible
for representing your community. With Council Districts, you will have a City Council member from your community representing you and your community. You will have a Council Member attending school board meetings and community events all the time, not just Election years. It means that all parts of Mount Vernon will have an equal say at City Hall.  More Accountability:

With Council Districts, you will have a Council Member who answers to you. You will know
who to call with a question. That person’s job will depend on how well he or she represents your community. Under the current system, a Council Member can ignore whole sections of Mount Vernon and still be re-elected.  More Openness:

So far in 2011, 100 percent of the City Council’s votes have been unanimous. The 100
percent unanimous votes do not reflect our diverse communities and interests. City Council Districts will ensure that every community has a say at City Hall. With Council Districts, we will have more public input, more debate and decisions that reflect all our communities.  Takes the Big Money Out of City Politics:

City Council members raise over $20,000 in each election cycle. That is legal and necessary,
but they rely on politically connected big donors while challengers and “citizen legislators” cannot raise those funds. With City Council Districts, community ties matter more than money. With City Council Districts, candidates will win based on what they do for your community.  No New Costs:

No new layers, no new staff and no new costs. Four towns on Long Island have made the
switch and none have raised costs because of Council Districts.

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  Mount Vernon Has Outgrown the At-Large System: When the State established the City government structure in the 1920’s, Mount Vernon had fewer than 30,000 residents. Today, Mount Vernon has over 68,000 residents, more than the City of New Rochelle and the City of White Plains. We are a large, thriving City full of diverse communities and interests. It is what we do at every other level of government & in the rest of America

City Council Districts Will Give Us a City Council for the Whole City

We frequently hear that the at-large system takes care of what is in the best interest of the City and that Council Districts will lead to petty infighting. Here are some facts:

To Know the What’s in the Best Interest of the Whole City, the City Council Must Hear from All Our Communities

How can the City Council know what’s in everyone’s best interest if not everyone has a voice? In the at-large system, communities do not have a representative and no one is accountable to our communities. Whole communities can be ignored and many feel they are.
Under the Current System, All Council Members Could Live on the Same Street

In theory, all of our City Council people can live on one street. In reality there have been times when a majority of City Board members have lived in the same community leaving the rest of the City out in the cold. Right now, all but one of the Council members live in the north side of Town.

Across America Legislators Balance Local Needs with Overall Needs; Mount Vernon is Out of Whack

All across America, legislators need to balance the idea of the greater good and the needs and interest of the districts they represent. Mount Vernon is out of whack because no one answers to our communities. Do we tell our County Legislators (Lyndon Williams, Bernice Spreckman) that they only think of Mount Vernon and ignore the County interest? Have the opponents to Council Districts supported doing away with districts at the County, State and National level?


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Responding to Claims Made by the Political Insiders and Protectors of the Status Quo Claim: Council Districts “Drive up the cost of government and cause taxes to rise.” Fact: Council Districts Do Not Raise Government Costs and Do Not Increase Taxes

This is a standard fear tactic. We will still have four Council Members. No new staff, no new offices and no new costs. Four Towns have made the switch on Long Island (Hempstead, North Hempstead, Brookhaven and Southold). None of them have increased spending because of Council Districts. For example, in Brookhaven, there has been a zero increase in general fund taxes since Council Districts.  NO NEW COSTS Moving to Council Districts adds no new costs. No more Council Members: We will still have five Council Members No new positions: No need to add new positions since we still have five Council Members No new staff: No new staff since we still have five Council Members No new offices: No need for new offices since we already have offices for five Council Members. And no need for District Offices since Council Members will live in their Districts. No other Town or City has opened district offices. Here are the facts:

Four other Towns on Long Island have made the switch: Hempstead, North Hempstead, Brookhaven and Southold. None have raised expenses because of Council Districts. For example, in Brookhaven there has been zero increase in the general tax fund since Council Districts.
In Hempstead, Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby says, “Costs have not risen because of Council Districts. If anything, Council Districts have held down costs because we need to report back to our districts on spending.” In Brookhaven, Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld says, “Council Districts have not raised government expenses in Brookhaven.” Here’s an important sign:

None of the other Towns have switched back from Council Districts, yet groups in other Towns (Riverhead, Islip, Oyster Bay and Babylon are looking at making the switch.)
 Don’t Be Intimidated by Scare Tactics

The opposition will claim that Council Districts will raise taxes. That’s a scare tactic to protect the
status quo. It is an argument made by political insiders who want to retain their special power and access. Let’s stick to the facts: Council Districts have not added costs in any Town or City that has implemented them.

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Accountability in City Government
The American system of government is built on the idea of accountability of our elected officials. Ask yourself:

Which City Council person is accountable to your community today? Which City Council person represents your community today? Which City Council person is accountable to keep your community informed of
important decisions at City Hall? Under the current at-large system, there is no one accountable to your community. Under the Council Districts, you will have a representative accountable to you:

A Councilmember whose job is to represent you and your community A Councilmember whose job is to answer your questions A Councilmember you can turn to if you have a problem with City issues. A Councilmember who will make sure the Town does not ignore your community A Councilmember who will make sure the City does not harm your community (Think
how the Atlantic Development situation would be different if we had Council Districts)

A Councilmember who will keep your community informed
If your representative does not fulfill these obligations, hold him or her accountable. Vote a new representative into office!

W H Y W E N E E D C I T Y C O U N C I L D I S T R I C T S I N T H E C I T Y O F M O U N T V E R N O N?

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Creating a Truly Representative City Council

You Deserve a City Council Member Representing You and Your Community 
Imagine knowing the City Council member to call if you have a question.

Imagine knowing the City Council member to call if you have a problem. Imagine your City Council person showing up at School District meetings even when it is
not an election year.

Imagine your City Council person making sure that your community’s need and interests
were heard.

Imagine your City Council person making sure your roads and highways are adequately

Imagine having a City Council person from your community and speaking for your

This is what changing to City Council Districts will deliver.

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City of Mount Vernon City Council Lacks Openness

100% Unanimous Votes = Lack of Representation
100 percent of all City Council votes in 2011 have been unanimous: 100 percent of all City Council votes in 2011 have been unanimous:

It is true that the City Council votes on many mundane matters, but it also votes on
major projects, zoning changes and City spending. Are there never any disagreements? Are there never competing ideas on how to manage or lead the City? Does no member ever dissent?

This monolithic voting speaks to a lack of representation, a lack of openness, a lack
of new ideas and a lack of competition for new ideas and resources. Council Districts will lead to all of our communities being heard. Under Council Districts, Council Members will discuss issues in public, will bring more ideas to City Hall meetings and will debate important matters.

City Council Districts = More Open and Representative Government

W H Y W E N E E D C I T Y C O U N C I L D I S T R I C T S I N T H E C I T Y O F M O U N T V E R N O N?

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Fewer Meetings Means Less Public Input and Less Openness

No Public Input, No Public Discussion

Have you attended a City Council meeting recently? There is no public debate and no public discussion. Here is the format: The meeting opens with an open comment period when members of the public can speak for up to four minutes. People can ask questions or raise concerns, but the City Council members do not answer questions and do not engage in any discussion. There is no dialogue with speakers. As one person put it, “It’s like talking to a wall.”

The meeting ends with a series of votes read one after another in a roll-call style. No
discussion, no explanations

Under the At-Large System, Communities Can be Ignored and Have No Recourse Under the current system, the City Council can ignore a community and be re-elected
based on votes from other communities. That could leave your community with no recourse. The current system lacks any accountability to our communities. Council Districts guarantee that all communities have a voice at City Hall.

Will Council Districts Pit One Community against Another? Under the current system, City Council members can favor one community or ignore
another without repercussion. Council Districts ensure that all communities have a say in how the City spends its resources. We want representation for all our communities and true, open government.

Will the Council Districts Allow Three Districts to Gang Up on One? No. This is a scare tactic put out by political insiders and the status quo. This has never
happened in the four Long Island towns that have adopted Council Districts and it does not happen in other legislatures. Do we hear about County Legislators ganging up on one district? Legislators need to find consensus if they are to represent the interests of their constituents and the City. This has not happened in other Towns. Hempstead Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby says it has not happened there. Brookhaven Councilman Steve Fiore-Rosenfeld says it has not happened there.

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