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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Voters: Get educated

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:01 PM

With the Aug. 4 primary election fast approaching, Detroiters should be aware of the excellent voter guide available on a Web site created by the local nonprofit publius.org.

Founded in 1996 by a guy named Vince Keenan, the organization is dedicated to voter education. A page on the site offers links to the Web sites of candidates for mayor, City Council, charter commission, and city clerk. For many council and charter commission candidates there are also responses to questionnaires the group sent to them.

A particularly interesting feature you can pull up with a click of your mouse is a map showing which zip codes candidates live in. It is a real eye-opener. Three zips on the city’s northwest side covering an area that’s roughly north of McNichols between Woodward and Telegraph— 48219, 48235, 48221 — is home to 42 of the nearly 160 people running for council. That’s more than 25 percent of the total number of candidates. On the other end of the scale, three zips on the southwest side of town — 48210, 48209 and 48217 (roughly located south of Warren between West Grand Boulevard and West Outer Drive — is home to a grand total of two candidates.

Sure, there’s a lot of industry in that part of town, and many residential areas are filled with abandoned properties and vacant land. Still, something seems seriously out of whack. Seems that this is another argument in favor of revising the charter to have at least part of the council elected by district instead of at large.

To find out which charter commission candidates favor that, you can check out their responses on the questionnaires they submitted to Keenan’s group.

Like I said, this is a very helpful site.

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