Last night at Gallagher & Cavanaugh (somewhere back in the South Building at Boott) Dr. Victoria Fahlberg spoke to various neighborhood groups' leaders regarding potential changes to Lowell's current at-large, winner take all (or first nine past the post) electoral system.
Nearly every neighborhood group was represented (Dayne, Gardner and I filled in for LDNA...Kathleen wanted to come but was ill -- not like the Beastie Boys, but as in actual, physical sickness).
There was a lot of discussion early on about whether financial barriers to entry were responsible, or at least contributory factors, to the steady decrease in both the numbers of candidates and the numbers of voters over time. I'm not sure -- I know conventional wisdom says that money = electoral success, but there's definitely research out there that challenges that, most notably in Levitt and Dubner's Freakonomics.
I had to leave early so I don't know where all the discussion ultimately went, but the basic thrust was that Dr. Fahlberg laid out some of the potential alternatives (for more on Proportional Representation systems, see my entry following the second UML discussion series on 31 MAR).
As I said at the end of that entry, expect the electoral reform issue to gain steam in the next few months as the election season starts to heat up and as ONE Lowell makes its way out to the neighborhood groups to discuss reform ideas.
Speaking of which, I did learn last night that Paul Belley (Pawtucketville Citizens' Council) is running for a Council seat this November. Admittedly, that's coming from single-source intelligence, but considering that he was the source, I figured I could report it under any journalistic integrity standard.
Also last night -- Walker-Rogers VFW Post 622 voted NOT to join the Lowell Veterans' Council.