City Council Members: 5 or 7? – Just the Facts

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By Dave Freneaux

Fact: Making Central’s government bigger by adding two Council Members would cost the Taxpayers of Central approximately $130,000 every four years.

Fact: If Central’s City Council elections are changed to five Districts, approximately 800 votes in a District would elect a Council Member.

Fact: If Central opted for seven Districts, approximately 575 votes would put a Council Member in office from that district.

    Three Council Members, LoBue, Messina and Washington, were elected on a platform supporting a move to Districts.  Central’s other two Council Members, DeJohn and Moak, have recently stated that they have heard the people’s support for Districts and that they too can support a move to City Council elections by District.  Under the Lawrason Act Central’s current City Council makes the decision as to how many Council Seats there will be in the 2014 election.  Given this information, it seems very likely that a move toward Districts will take place before 2014.

    The reason most often stated for wanting Central to have Districts is equal representation.  Currently, all five of Central’s Council Members live within two miles of the corner of Sullivan and Greenwell Springs in the southern area of the City.  Under Districts, Central would be divided into areas of equal population and the voters in each District would elect someone living in that District to serve on the City Council.  Dividing the approximately 8,000 voters in the last election into five districts yields 1,600 likely voters, and with about 800 votes a candidate living in each District becomes a Council Member.  Similarly, seven districts means about 1,150 likely voters, with about 575 votes putting a candidate in office.  As the numbers show, adding two Council Seats does give slightly better representation to the individual voters, but it carries a $130,000 price tag each four years.

    At the current Council’s rate of spending, Central’s City Council will cost about $330,000 over a four year term.  If two Council Seats are added this cost would rise to near $460,000, an increase of $130,000 over the four year Council term.  The decision to add two Council Seats does give each voter a stronger voice in the choice of their District’s Council Member, but it also comes at a cost of $130,000 over four years.  Since this decision is, by law, left to the current Council Members themselves, any citizen wishing to be heard on this issue should start by calling a Council Member and letting him know whether you support creating additional Council Seats.


  1. Keith Holmes

    June 2, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I would favor seven districts. As we grow, each area of the City will have different concerns and issues. The only way to give fair representation is to create districts. Adding two councilman, costing $130,000 over four years when our municipal budget will exceed over $16,000,000 over that same time only represents an increase of 0.81% which I think we can all agree is insignificant.

  2. Keith Holmes

    June 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Just a clarification on the above. I am not advocating necessarily seven councilman as much as I am encouraging individual districts. For a community of our size, I suspect five equally divided councilman could easily represent all of Central. I see no benefit of the five plus two proposal. If the council feels we need seven, then I would prefer seven individual districts. I don’t think adding two more councilman financially would be a burden to the budget so the real crux is should we have all individual districts, all at large (the present), or a combination (hybrid). I favor all individual districts. We are not such a large municipality that warrants both individual and at large representaiton.

  3. Alton R Ashford

    June 2, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I like the city council with the five at large seats. Each council person should represent the entire community not just a certain area of the city. If I have a concern I want the option of communicating with five members that understand that I am a potential supporter if they chose to seek another term. I wonder if districts will lead a councilman to give the majority of his efforts to 1/5 of the city. My second choice would be 5 districts. I am against 7 districts, especially 5 combined with an “at large” representation. I also like having the opportunity to vote for anyone that would care to serve without term limits reducing my choices.

  4. Mike Mannino

    June 2, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    As a member of the committee, I was one of 2 votes for 5 districts. I dont like at large because you end up like we are today with a small area having all the representatives and tey may not be aware of the unique problems in other areas. It also makes everyone responsible for everything and nobody responsable for anything if you get what I mean. I would like to have a single, go to person that is from my immeadiate area that I can hold accountable. For the same reason, I am not in favor of the 2 at large seats plus 5 districts. Who do these 2 represent ? All ? Not really viable. As far as 5 vs. 7, there are some advantages and maybe as we grow we could re-visit. But with limited money, I just dont see that we should waste those funds. I have always been in favor of term limits in all areas of government. Sure there are a few good polititians that deserve to be elected over and over. But the vast majority become complacent and somewhat influenced by special interests the longer they serve. As long as they worry about doing what it takes to get re-elected, they will be tempted to do things they wouldnt do if they knew they were term limited. When the US was formed, the intention was that a person would give back to his country for a period of time and return home to a normal existence. They would term limit themselves. Now its a full time job and these polititians think they are above us.

    • dave

      June 2, 2011 at 10:06 pm

      Mike, I saw you had posted here and logged in expecting to disagree with you, since we usually do, but then I realized that I would also be disagreeing with myself, and I would lose credibility if I did. So…..I agree with Mike….AND me. There, I said it.

      Seriously Mike, you seem to have thought this out and have good reasons. Thanks for the post.

  5. kyle

    June 2, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I agree with Mike and Keith on having 5 districts. I think Mike summed it up well. Five is enough. Don’t need to waste more money for two more councilmembers. The at-large system that we have now has two councilmembers living on the same street, correct?

  6. Alton R Ashford

    June 2, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I agree with term limits in National Politics. I just feel that locally people are informed enough to make better decisions. I can’t see a central councilman benefitting that much from serving the city. These type of jobs are either stepping stones for people interested in politics or a way for good people to serve their community. I don’t think money in Central campaigns plays the roll it does in state and national politics. Also locally, I could care less whom the Republican/Democratic parties endorse. I’m fine with 5 districts. I just like being able to support more than one candidate. Mike, what if you don’t get along with your districts councilman. I don’t know why I would say something like that? LOL At least you would have four others you could go to. BTW Mike, how is Mike Sr. doing. He is in my prayers.

  7. Mike Mannino

    June 2, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Dave could you clarify for the readers how you came up with 130K for 2 extra members when the actual pay is 76K. I think I know and I agree but may deserve an explaination. BTW, I prefer 5 DISTRICTS so I’m not beating you up.

    • dave

      June 2, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      Mike, I am happy to explain. Add in payroll taxes, continuing education, meeting expenses, legal research and legal meeting expenses. Increase the variable items by 40%, add in salaries, and you get a total increase of 131k over 4 years.

  8. Paul

    June 2, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    I favor individual districts, primarily for the same reasons listed above. As for the number, I guess that depends on how many residents per councilmember is manageable. The Council will have to grow with the population. We are much bigger than Baker and Zachary, who both have 5 council members, so reason would suggest that we should have more citizen representation in government. That’s what it is really about, not the $130K. It’s about a fair representation on local matters. At least that’s my two cents….which is only worth 1/2 cent in this economy

  9. Another Central resident

    June 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I favor individual districts because that would weed out what we have today where majority of the council live in the same area. I wonder how many houses will go up for sell just so they can move into a district.

  10. Mike Mannino

    June 3, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    My dad is doing fine. I appreciate you asking. You know he is hard to slow down !

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