By Doug Clark, Off the Record, Greensboro News-Record, July 6, 2015.
Republican state Rep. Michael Speciale of New Bern, who voted against HB 263 before he voted for it last week, has responded to Gov. Pat McCrory’s statementscondemning the measure:
“Governor McCrory just cannot seem to get that he is no longer a Mayor and we are not his Aldermen,” Speciale wrote on his Facebook page this afternoon. “As usual, the Governors comments about the General Assembly are sophomoric and borne of ignorance and a lack of knowledge. The Executive Branch needs your attention, Governor, not the Legislative Branch! We must be doing alright in the General Assembly since the Governor sure hasn’t hesitated to take credit for many of our accomplishments!”
He also posted a comment on our website:
“At large voting allows a small cabal to control the political scene, but individual districts allows for individual representation. We do not have home rule in NC, therefore it IS the responsibility of the General Assembly to ensure the fairest system of government, and districts are much fairer than at large seats.”
This tells me that the governor has struck a nerve. Legislators know they have no legitimate reason to dictate to Greensboro what kind of city election system it should have. With the governor calling them out, they’re afraid voters in their districts will take notice and ask the same question: Why are you doing it?
The idea that a “small cabal” can control at-large seats is absurd. When everyone in the city votes, there’s much less of a chance of that happening. It’s much easier for a “small cabal” to control a smaller voting district.
If the legislature simply dislikes at-large voting, it’s inconsistent in its application of its preference. The same bill that eliminated at-large voting for Greensboro added at-large voting for Trinity.
Speciale probably knows better, since he originally voted against HB 263 before he came out of the Republican arm-twisting caucus meeting and voted for it. Maybe he feels guilty about caving in to pressure.
His remarks about McCrory are illuminating and sadly reflect the appalling level of disrespect for the governor among legislators of his own party. This attitude does not serve our state well.