Vote “Your Race” for City Council in Norfolk?

Guest post by Rodney Jordan

In the City of Norfolk, there are six candidates vying for two city council seats. Given the opportunity to vote for the two best candidates of my choice, I would vote for one candidate who happens to be black and another who happens to be white. But, alas, in Norfolk voters do not have such a choice. The wards in Norfolk are racially districted. Therefore in the superward election nearly 69% of voters in ward 6 are white; nearly 64% of voters in ward 7 are black. The candidates vying for the ward 6 seat are all white and the candidates for the ward 7 seat all black (per our “racial” classification system)… and so it has been for almost 20 years.

Candidate positions on quality of life, education, economic development, size and role of government, and how to make all of Norfolk more competitive, et. al. — those issues are secondary.

Vote your “race” and may the best white candidate in ward 6 and black candidate in ward 7 win.


10 thoughts on “Vote “Your Race” for City Council in Norfolk?

  1. I’m sorry I did not see this City Council Election as as Black or White, nor have I
    ever look at elections as a black or white race issue. I have always voted for the canidate that best represented my values.

    1. You missed the point of the post. Because of the voting rights act and, unless I’m mistaken, certain parts of the civil rights act, cities, counties, and states are legally required to segregate blacks and whites in voting districts so that minorities have a shot at being elected. It’s based on theory that the best, and at the time perhaps only, way to get a minority elected was the have their district with a majority-minority population. In my opinion it’s the most racist policy that exists in America today. Maybe it made sense 20 or 30 years ago, but last I checked Obama got elected and America’s population is still majority white.

      1. No I did not miss the point, I do not vote for a canidate because of the color of thier skin, hair or eyes. I will vote for the canidate that best respresents my value and addresses my concerns.

        1. No you don’t vote for a candidate based on the color of their skin, but the choices you are given as candidates are determined in part by the color of their skin depending on where you live.

  2. This is a thought provoking post. While I like to think we all, including myself, cast our votes in earnest and with with lofty ideals, blah, blah, blah, the reality is people end up voting for the person that is most like ourselves. Evidence of this is how politicians manufacture voting districts to represent not the people that they represent but districts that are representative of the candidate themselves. Candidates are generally assured monopoly status if they meet the criteria that they established. I’m not a cynic but I suspect that more then most elections are decided first by personality then party affiliation. Sadly, either can be trumped by race. If I’m a sparrow how can I vote for the robin? I can’t imagine too many black/white men get voted into office on the Indian reservation nor would I expect them to be… 

  3. People complain all the time that it appears the choices on the ballot have been made beforehand. Well, this is just one more piece of the winnowing that takes place. Voters in superward 7 rarely get the chance to vote for a white candidate, because few dare to run. The same is true in Wards 3 and 4. The reverse is true in superward 6 and in wards 1, 2 and 5.

    As long as Norfolk continues to district based on race, we will have the DOJ approving our plans. Only when Norfolk makes the districts more race-neutral will we be able to use the provisions of the law to bail out of it, like other communities in Virginia have done. But that requires actions this council is unwilling to take.

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