Questions Of Democracy From North Padre Island

I recently read an article in the North Padre Island Moon about a new political action committee called Island United. North Padre Island is part of Corpus Christi, Texas.

A purpose of this political action committee is to encourage island residents to vote as a block in order to influence the outcome of elections for the Corpus Christi City Council and Mayor of Corpus Christi.

(Above is a Padre Island sand dune though I’m not sure how you’d prove otherwise if I’m making its location up. Here is information on sand dunes).

Some North Padre Island residents feel a divided vote weakens the clout of the community at Corpus Christi City Hall.

Here is the full article.

Please click here for a political map of Corpus Christi.

The presumption of this political action committee is that highly localized issues should be the guiding factor in how residents of this area cast votes for city council and mayor.

Given  that island voters have a history of differing opinions on who should be elected to municipal posts in Corpus Christi, this seems to be a tenuous assertion.

What are factors beyond North Padre Island issues that could impact how residents vote for council and mayor?

1. How will candidates for city office administer to Corpus Christi as a whole? Just as no man is an island, we can also say that not even an island is an island.

2. While I’m going to guess these council elections are officially non-partisan, voters likely have some sense of the state and national party affiliations of the candidates. Party matters at all levels of politics.

3. Voters may have competing loyalties. Endorsements from local unions or police groups or gay groups may count as much or more to some than where exactly in the city they live.

4. The race, ethnicity, religious preferences, or gender of candidates may be a positive or a negative to some voters.

5. Especially in the one district-level council seat described in the article, some voters may know the candidates. They may like or dislike the candidates on a purely personal level.

6. Even on issues meaningful only to North Padre Island, voters there are likely to have differing views.

I think the basic assumptions of the Island United political action committee are flawed.

First, they are asking voters to put narrow interests in front of city-wide concerns. That might make sense for a district seat, but not for city-wide at-large seats or for the mayor’s office.

Island United is asking voters to set aside long-standing party choices, various competing loyalties beyond a street address, and aspects of human nature that influence how people vote.

In suggesting voters put aside all these factors for highly local concerns, Island United is at once asking too little and too much of the people of the North Padre Island area of Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas, U.S.A.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.

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The Thirteeneth Juror

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