I've been a big fan of Chula Vista giving serious thought to implementing council districts.
My go-to argument has been that residents in a cluster of neighborhoods are better served by having one representative as an advocate rather than depending on five people who may or may not be familiar with a community's specific needs.
That's still my belief but my faith was a little shaken recently.
I live in San Diego. There are eight council districts, soon to be nine. I've been happy with the three most recent council persons representing me at City Hall. They've done wonders for my neighborhood and we've been on the same page about a lot of social issues. In 16 years I've contacted their offices maybe three times.
The most recent occasion was Oct. 28. I had four questions about the council person's position on the Occupy San Diego protests.
As of two days ago I hadn't heard anything from the council person's staffer who handles issues specific to my neighborhood.
I e-mailed the staffer again Wednesday, asking for answers to my original questions. Unfortunately, since three weeks had passed without a response now I had seven more questions. Poor guy. I was really piling on.
"I'm guessing you're busy, which is why I didn't hear from you the first time around," I wrote.
To make his life easier—and perhaps facilitate some sort of acknowledgement—I CC'd his boss and the council person's communications director.
Within four hours I got a reply. The staffer apologized for the delayed response "however I think the majority of these questions have been answered through (the council person's) Facebook status," he wrote, supplying a link.
Admittedly, my first thought was OMG! IM NT A MF!@$! teenager who spends all his time checking his and his "Friends" Facebook status. I wasn't LOLing.
I e-mailed back asking if I was supposed to wade through all of the status updates and also wanting to know a few more specifics.
I forgot to CC his boss and the PR flak again, but 'tis the season to be hopeful. I'm sure I'll hear back soon.
I'm sharing this tale not because I want to embarrass anybody but because I want to warn Chula Vista voters.
Council districts might be the best way to have your neighborhood represented at city council, but as far as having someone being effectively responsive, well...I'll keep you posted.